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v, 



WAWA^a&mviiHr/At'wu*^^^ 



THE LIBRARY 
OF 

Sarah Cooper Hewitt 

presented in memory of 

her father 

Abram S. Hewitt 

AND HER SISTER 

Eleanor Garnier Hewitt 




THE 

SCIENCE OF TASTE 






THE 



SCIENCE OE TASTE 



BEING 



A TREATISE ON ITS PRINCIPLES. 



By G-.-L. 



WITH 105 ILLUSTRATIONS BY THE AUTHOR. 



" Natura beatis 
Omnibus esse dedit, si quis coguovevit uti." 
Claudian. 



LONDON: 
EDWARD STANFORD, 55, CHARING CROSS, S.W. 

1879. 



PEEFACE. 



This book is not published because of any insufficiency 
in the number of works devoted to Art-culture, but 
because, notwithstanding all that has been written 
upon the subject, guiding principles are still uneluci- 
dated ; a collection of opinions has been substituted 
for a code of fundamental laws, and this collection is 
diffused over a succession of disconnected volumes, the 
perusal of which leaves one under the impression that 
aesthetic appreciation in one department has nothing- 
whatever to do with aesthetic appreciation in another. 
We are told in a recent treatise that " principles are 
indeed necessary," but that " they must be the servants 
of the decorator and not his master." l My object, is to 
show that they must be not only his master, but his 
sole guide. In attempting the attainment of this object 
I have omitted my own name from the title-page, 
aimed at conciseness, avoided as far as possible the use 
of technical expressions, restricted such observations as 
it was necessary to make to localities and places which 
are generally known, abstained from trenching upon 

1 ' House Decoration,' Art at Home Series, p. 16. 



PEEFACE. 



the domain of private life, and, in order to show that 
an identical process of reasoning applies to all, brought 
within one view various subjects which it has hitherto 
been customary to consider separately. 

I am aware there are inconveniences attending an 
endeavor to be brief; but it is requisite to caution the 
reader — especially the lady reader — against one only, 
that is, to take nothing without its context. Upon 
page 226, for example, the ' blue and green' suggested 
by M. Blanc has been deprecated " as manifesting 
neither harmony by contrast nor harmony by simi- 
larity." Unless this be read in connection with the 
remarks upon pages 219 and 224, wherein shades 
and hues of positive color are expressly commended, 
it may be held to exclude such exquisite combinations 
as may be observed upon the tail of a peacock ; whereas 
my intention is to exclude only positive blue in con- 
junction with positive green. 

The sketches have been done by myself in pen-and- 
ink, and transferred to print by the Typographic Com- 
pany. Not being designed as patterns, but as mere 
illustrations, they will not, I hope, be scrutinized hyper- 
critically; for although wood-engravings would have 
been much better executed, the cost of obtaining them 
might have placed the book beyond the reach of many 
for whom it is intended. 



CONTENTS. 



PAGK 

Introduction 1 



CHAPTEK I. 

Artistic Construction 6 

CHAPTER II. 

Details and Accessories .. 46 

CHAPTER III. 

Chiaroscuro and Color G7 

CHAPTER IV. 

Decoration and Household Furniture 79 

CHAPTER V. 

Common Sense 128 



viii CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER VI. 

PAGE 

Personal Adornment — Male Attire 179 



CHAPTER VII. 

Personal Adornment — Feminine Attire 193 



Conclusion 243 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



INTRODUCTION. 



Taste may be concisely defined as the capability of 
appreciating the Beautiful ; and the Beautiful is, pri- 
marily, that which, by attracting the eye, satisfies and 
elevates the mind. 

There exists such diversity in matters of taste, that 
we have accustomed ourselves to consider its amena- 
bility to laws as visionary and hopeless. But this 
arises chiefly from the habit of confounding what may 
properly be termed aesthetic appreciation with that 
which is mere personal predilection or individual pre- 
ference. In a minor degree, the practice of regarding 
rules as synonymous with principles, and of confusing 
that which may happen to please with that which 
is best calculated to do so — these also are concomitant 
elements in those erroneous notions which retard the 
development of Taste as a Science. If we would 
permit ourselves to mark the distinction between that 
which may adventitiously gratify, and that which ought 
to do so because it is approved by reason and is in 
accordance with natural analogy, we would be com- 

u 



2 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

pelled to acknowledge a far greater uniformity of 
appreciation than we are apt to suppose from the 
frequent use of such phrases as that " tastes are so 
various as to be beyond the influence of rational dis- 
cussion." It often happens that a man likes one thing 
before his attention is directed to another, just as he 
may relish one dish until he partakes of a better. 
Devise, however, something essentially good, some- 
thing which satisfies the common yearnings of civilized 
humanity, and it will as surely court universal appro- 
bation as the skill of the accomplished chef will elicit 
general commendation. 

No better illustration of popular misconception can 
here be adduced than that treated of in Chapter IV. 
A friend rejoicing in the glories of the imagination, or 
aiming at discovering artistic proficiency alone, tri- 
umphantly points to a ceiling embellished with sky, 
clouds, doves, and angels, and exultingly exclaims, "Is 
not this fine ! " You cannot go into ecstasies over it ; 
you feel it ought not to be there. You essay your 
reasons ; he will not listen to reasons. He shrugs his 
shoulders, pities your want of appreciation, and cuts 
short all controversy by giving you to understand that 
disapproval is immaterial, because whether you like it 
or do not like it is entirely a question of " taste." Such 
decoration is radically wrong, since a house being a 
purely artificial thing, and a roof an absolutely neces- 
sary thing, no attempt should be made to impart to the 



INTRODUCTION. 



ceiling a semblance of intangibility, or to suggest ex- 
posure to the open air. The friend can assign no reason 
for his approval beyond the circumstance that he likes 
it, and when he tells you it is a matter of "taste," he 
really means that the thing he admires suits his own 
predisposition. 

Now Taste, as contradistinguished from predilec- 
tion, is eminently a subject within the influence of 
rational discussion. It will not be long before prin- 
ciples are established in this as in every other science ; 
and if we deduce our rules from those ascertainable laws 
written upon the open volume of Nature before us, we 
shall have no difficulty in ascertaining what is best 
calculated to please the eye, gratify the mind, elevate 
the sentiments, and conduce to that general harmony 
which prevails in creation around us ; which the spirit 
of man so earnestly desires, but which the folly of man 
so materially impedes. 

But it is idle to expect any effectual progress in 
popular appreciation unless we bear in mind the dis- 
tinction already adverted to between rules and prin- 
ciples ; unless we treat the subject more as a matter of 
judgment than of mere sentiment ; unless attention be 
drawn to the why and wherefore of aesthetic proposi- 
tions. It would be difficult to name even any book 
which goes beyond telling us that we ought to admire 
this, that, or the other, without assigning any reason 
for doing so; or that we ought to adopt one thing and 

B 2 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



avoid another because some one else — some antecedent 
" authority " — has done so. Principles are the bases of 
rules ; the firm foundations upon which a superstructure 
of attractiveness is raised ; and it ought to be obvious 
that to propound rules without supporting them by 
broad, fundamental laws, is virtually but to enunciate 
a series of mere personal opinions. 

Although, however, Taste primarily concerns itself 
with that which is best calculated to please the eye, 
there is no reason why it should not embrace more 
than this. By a sort of tacit understanding it has 
become usual among writers thus to circumscribe its 
signification : possibly from an apprehension that the 
subject might otherwise branch out into interminable 
ramifications. In every-day life it is common enough 
to applaud or stigmatize sayings and actions as mani- 
festing good or bad taste, and it would be difficult to 
assign any valid reason for the exclusion from written 
treatises of subjects which in ordinary conversation are 
practically recognized as constituent elements of a 
science. The apprehension is at first sight well 
founded ; yet there is no real difficulty so long as we 
abstain from trenching upon the province of erudition, 
and confine ourselves to those rudimentary propositions 
which are suggested by the contemplation of natural 
harmony. "When a cantata is said to have been 
executed with excellent taste, it is not so much meant 
that a knowledge of technique has been displayed, as 



INTRODUCTION. 



that a sympathetic response has been made to intuitive 
aspirations. "When a statesman refrains from obser- 
vations which may unnecessarily irritate the suscepti- 
bilities of a foreign people, he thereby exhibits no 
erudition, but a commendable appreciation of what 
conduces to the maintenance of good-will. These are 
essentially matters which fall within the province of 
Taste ; the very essence of which is harmony, not only 
in all that appertains to material beauty, but in all that 
is productive of mental gratification. 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



CHAPTER I. 

ARTISTIC CONSTRUCTION. 

Among the means best calculated to please the eye, a 
position of pre-eminence has by common consent been 
assigned to the Art of Painting. Neither with this, 
however, nor with Sculpture is it the purpose of these 
pages to deal, excepting in so far as to indicate the 
manner in which they may be associated with Architec- 
ture so as to afford to the spectator the maximum of 
gratification. For, paradoxical as it may seem, these 
arts ought, properly speaking, to be subordinated to 
Architecture ; and if this position be not accepted for 
them, we may witness once more the renascence of 
that jealous obtrusiveness which but two centuries ago 
manifested itself in the extravagant floridity of Genoese 
ornation. It is a matter of no little importance that the 
principles of Taste should find expression in artistic 
construction, for unless the masses be surrounded by 
objects which are beautiful, we can scarcely expect the 
growth of that refinement which ought to distinguish 
a wealthy and prosperous people. Were these principles 
generally understood, builders would cease to build, 
because few would inhabit, the melancholy terraces of 



AETISTIC CONSTRUCTION. 



gloomy dwellings which disfigure every quarter of our 
metropolis ; the whole aspect of London might be 
changed ; a great deal of money now lavished in 
foreign parts might find its way into the pockets 
of our own eountrypeople, and thousands might he 
induced to abide upo their native shores who in the 
present condition of things migrate in search of more 
agreeable residence abroad. I am by no means 
desirous of appearing to dictate to professional gentle- 
men, but am simply indicating what seems to be, in 
my humble judgment, a desirable element in a liberal 
education. 

.cEsthetically considered, there is nothing which fill Is 
within the category of artistic construction except 
among people of the Caucasian race. The Coptic 
structures of ancient Egypt, howsoever marvellous; 
the Mongolian temples of China and Japan ; the mono- 
liths and pagodas of the early Hindus, present but few 
features worthy of imitation. It is only when we 
come to the Greeks, the Eomans, the Saracens, and the 
people of Western Europe who in the fourteenth 
century elaborated that exquisite Pointed style com- 
monly known as the Gothic, that we find materials for 
admiration at every turn. 

Upon the growth of Architecture it is unnecessary 
in a treatise of this nature to dwell. Suffice it to sa} 
that the leading characteristics of Grecian construction 
are the colonnade, the sculptured frieze, and pedi« 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



ment ; that the arch is supposed to have been unknown 
to them, and to have been introduced only after the 
Macedonian conquest, — although recent discoveries in 
Asia Minor somewhat militate against this hypo- 
thesis ; — that it forms a distinguishing feature in 
Eoman design ; that it is a vast improvement upon the 
rigid lines of their predecessors, and that it is an in- 
dispensable element in successful construction at the 
present day. After the transfer of the capital to 
Byzantium oriental extravagances became engrafted 
upon the grand simplicity of the Eoman style, and 
thence arose the Byzantine, a very good specimen of 
which, although somewhat fantastic, is afforded in the 
Cathedral of St. Mark's in Venice. 

The twelfth century witnessed the incipience of that 
most exquisite method known as the Gothic, with its 
pointed arch and steeple, its buttresses, its mullion 
windows, chamfered edges, foliations, delicate tracery, 
and exquisite elaborations. From its almost simul- 
taneous adoption by those nations which had taken 
part in the Crusades, the germs of this style are 
supposed to have been borrowed from the Saracens ; 
and certainly there is a striking resemblance in the 
shape of the arch, in the spires, and in other salient 
characteristics. In the South Kensington Museum 
is a photograph from an unfinished mausoleum to Ali 
Adil Shah, which bears a most remarkable similitude to 
that of a ruined abbey. Exquisite, however, as this 



ARTISTIC CONSTRUCTION, 



style is, it is adapted in its integrity to ecclesiastical 
edifices alone. With the spread of Protestantism and 
with the suppression of the monasteries by Henry Till, 
it speedily fell into disuse, for so distasteful had the 
ascendency of the priesthood become that a mode of 
construction associated with Papal Supremacy and 
obnoxious tenets could not be expected to maintain its 
popularity. The diffusion of education and the increase 
of wealth gave rise to others more suited to seminaries 
of learning and to domestic habitations, and thus arose 
the Tudor and Elizabethan. These are admirably 
adapted to both the climate and landscape of Britain, 
and may be characterized as essentially national. 

While progress was thus in one direction made 
among ourselves, Italy beheld the birth of the Renais- 
sance. Surrounded as the descendants of the Romans 
were with noble and numerous monuments of ancient 
grandeur, it was natural that with the development of 
commercial greatness they should resuscitate rather than 
devise, and it was natural too that a style so admirably 
suited to palatial edifices should be introduced into and 
welcomed in England. But with its introduction set in 
a spirit of revivalism ; revivalism led to copying, 
copying brought about the extinction of national 
inventiveness, and the land became inundated with 
structures as remarkable for hideous insipidity as for 
absolute unsuitability. The Tudor died out; the 
Elizabethan died out; the Renaissance died out; the 



10 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

cultivation of classical learning led to the imitation of 
classical forms, and the result manifested itself in those 
gloomy memorials of the Georgian era, which have 
contributed so materially to damage upon the Continent 
our reputation for aesthetic perception. Few buildings 
are so unsightly as our National Gallery, London 
University, British Museum, and Mint ; and there is, 
perhaps, none in the whole world so abominable as the 
Town Hall at Brighton. 

We are now in the Victorian age, and although it 
is said that the Yictorian age will hereafter be spoken 
of with eulogy, although the present generation has 
witnessed the erection of beautiful and costly edifices, 
yet, what is the actual condition of Architecture at this 
present moment ? What proportion do those buildings 
which attract and rivet attention bear to those which 
disappoint and irritate ? What institution have we 
where the principles of artistic construction are insisted 
upon ? What department of the State concerns itself 
with the development of Taste ? What assurance is 
there that when designs are submitted to public com- 
petition the best shall be selected ? At one time there 
is a " Gothic " revival, at another " Queen Anne " ; 
then " streaky-bacon " has a turn ; and now the world 
has gone mad after red brick. There appears to be 
no unanimity among designers ; no settled compre- 
hension among the public. An unsymmetrical pile of 
confused insipidity is already occupying a chief place 



ARTISTIC CONSTRUCTION. 11 

among our civic edifices, and the aspect of the metro- 
polis — always excepting some parts of the City proper 
— is a standing reflection upon the character of national 
refinement. 

The chief obstacle to contend against is the influence 
of Fashion — that insatiable desire for novelty which 
precludes the retention of what is good, and creates an 
unceasing demand for innovation. We revive, not 
because we come to perceive that there are excellences 
in one style which are wanting in another, but because, 
having no settled principles to guide us, we are 
vacillating and capricious. It is only by dissemi- 
nating a knowledge of principles, or drawing attention 
to what appear to be principles, and by appealing to 
popular judgment, that we shall be able to establish a 
spirit of true eclecticism as a barrier against the 
inroads of that capricious Goddess. 

One of the first things to bear in mind is that it 
is eminently desirable to establish, and maintain if we 
can, a national mode of construction ; that is, a mode 
thoroughly adapted to our climate and to the genius of 
its people. This we at one time had, but the extension 
of intercourse with foreign parts, the growth of cos- 
mopolitanism, and the assumption of self-imposed 
"missions," appear to be undermining that proud 
patriotism which should impress itself upon the pro- 
ductions of every great people. Our neighbors, who 
have concerned themselves more with the prosperity of 



12 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

their own country than with the " regeneration " of 
others, have long established such a style admirably 
suited to their wants. By the exercise of common 
sense— which, as we shall see further on, is a leading 
element in Taste — they have rendered their capital the 
most attractive in the world, and the result is a 
constant drain of money into their pockets, half of 
which, probably, comes from England itself. Might 
we not do likewise ? Are we to perpetually borrow or 
revive ? Borrowing is virtually the admission of an 
inferiority we must be compelled to accept unless we 
strike out a path of our own. It would not be difficult 
to do this, even without actual originality, provided we 
selected and combined with discrimination. Within 
the present century it was usual to set up a pagan 
temple for Christian worship, to back an Athenian 
portico with a steeple, to erect memorials copied from 
those in Rome, and trophies " designed " after the 
monoliths of Egypt. We had Algerine Pavilions, 
Egyptian Halls, Trajan Columns, Gothic Grana- 
ries, and Cleopatra Needles by the score (Fig. 1). 
Even for the very lampposts, as we may witness 
throughout the region of May fair, the brain of 
the Briton appeared to soar no higher than the obe- 
lisk. And this taste has not died out. Nor will it 
do so until we perceive and practically acknowledge 
the false reasoning upon which it is founded. 

It has pleased the Omnipotent to give us diversity of 



ARTISTIC CONSTRUCTION. 



13 



climate, diversity of product, diversity of race, and we 
can no more transfer the architectural modes of other 
countries without their accompanying divergence in 

Fig. 1. 




THE OBELISK IN LONDON. 



manners and customs tlmn we can transplant the flora 
of other climes without their soil and temperature. 
Ignoring this, we have accustomed ourselves to con- 



14 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

sider merely whether or not a thing is intrinsically 
worth imitating, and if it be thought so, to adopt it. 
It may be so — it may be even intrinsically beautiful — 
and yet offend against the first necessities of Taste. 
It is said, for instance, that the Eoyal Exchange is 
a perfect specimen of Grecian Architecture. Is it 
adapted to the purpose for which it was intended ? 
Are City brokers to transact business in an open court, 
exposed to the pelting rain which descends upon our 
favored island the greater portion of the year ? Do 
we expect to find insurance underwriters swarming 
forth from a Grecian Temple ? Is it in any way suited 
to the character of surrounding architecture ? It is 
said that the church of St. Pancras is another beautiful 
specimen ; that it is an exact copy of the Erechtheium. 
What, we may ask, is an Erechtheium doing in London ? 
It is not only out of harmony with neighboring 
edifices, but absolutely unadapted to northern latitudes. 
A few years since it was deemed desirable to erect 
a public monument to Captain Speke. Speke was an 
Englishman, and had served in our army ; the monu- 
ment was to be set up in the Kensington Gardens, a 
place peculiarly British in the character of its scenery ; 
yet, because Speke had devoted himself to explorations 
in Africa, therefore his monument assumed the form 
of an obelisk. Does not this obelisk create in the 
mind a sense of incongruity as perplexing as that 
which arises from the contemplation of the Chinese 



AETISTIC CONSTEUCTION. 15 

Pagoda in the Kew Gardens, or the Saracenic Cafe over 
the Railway Station at Blackfriars Bridge ? When the 
" Turkish hath " emerged into popularity, buildings 
were erected all over England in the Turkish Style. 
Why ? In the first place, what is known as the 
Turkish Bath is not a Turkish bath at all, but a 
Eoman bath, in common use for centuries anterior to 
the conquest of Byzantium. In the next place, is it 
not absurd to import the Turkish style when it cannot 
be accompanied by Turkish accessories ? 

Again, we are creatures of habit, powerfully in- 
fluenced by association, and therefore, even if a method 
of construction be of native origin, it should not be 
used for one class of edifice when it has been ordinarily 
employed for another. We have lately been over- 
whelmed with the results of a Gothic Revival, and the 
advocates of that style have told us that it was not 
restricted in its palmy days to ecclesiastical architec- 
ture. Does this affect the question when we know 
that it is the characteristic of almost every church iu 
the kingdom ? We feel that it is associated with the 
restraints and austerities of public worship, and no man 
relishes the impression, when visiting an acquaintance, 
that he is about to enter into a house of prayer. The 
Midland Terminus Hotel, with its spires, turrets, and 
Gothic windows ; does it look like an hotel ? Does it 
harmonize with one's notions of what an hotel ought to 
be? Those innumerable residences on Haverstock 



16 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

Hill, with their pointed-arch portals; have they that 
inviting, comfortable aspect which family dwellings 
ought to have ? There is a conservatory attached to 
one of the mansions in Kensington Palace Gardens 
which bears a most striking resemblance to a chapel. 
What sort of " taste " do those persons display who 
thus ignore the natural and cherished associations of 
the intellect, and fail to denote the character of an 
edifice by an outward and visible impress ? 

These, then, are the first things we should bear in 
mind ; that congruity and harmony are as essential 
as intrinsic beauty ; that styles should not be needlessly 
intermingled ; and that it is highly desirable to impart, 
if we can, a distinctive stamp to our method of con- 
struction. 

The members of the Metropolitan Board of Works 
periodically exult in the improvements effected through 
their agency ; the vastness of our resources is an 
inexhaustible subject of congratulation, and Britons 
are never wearied of pointing to the extent of their 
metropolis as an evidence of ever-increasing prosperity. 
Can the aspect of our capital be compared with that of 
Paris, or even with that of the little State of Belgium, 
which we have so magnanimously taken under our 
protection ? As a centre of commerce its miles of 
warehouses are imposing enough ; but otherwise, how 
insipid its architecture ; how gloomy its long lines 
of unbeautiful terraces ; how bespattered with mud its 



AETISTIC CONSTRUCTION. 17 

streets ; how begrimed with soot its buildings ; how 
unprovided with requisites for the recreation and en- 
joyment of the people ; how depressing its social 
atmosphere ! Is Taste to concern itself with outward 
forms alone, and not trace defects in these forms to 
their source ? The very magnitude of our metropolis 
is a reflection upon national refinement ; for is not 
the constant increase of radius owing to the circum- 
stance that families can not live in suites as they do 
abroad ; and also to the fact that, in consequence of 
the smoke impregnating our atmosphere, and the dis- 
graceful state of our streets and pavements, people are 
forced to move into more cleanly localities ? It is all 
very well to say that the English are a singularly 
domestic people, and love isolation ; that our systems 
are different from continental systems ; that almost 
all municipal functions are vested in corporate bodies, 
and that corporate bodies have often proved them- 
selves very useful in repelling the encroachments of 
the Crown. As a matter of fact, the annoyances we 
suffer are owing to an absence of system. Every 
vestry does what is right in its own eyes, matters of 
everyday concern are regulated by men of the narrow- 
est views, and as to the love of isolation assumed to be 
peculiar to the people, that would soon vanish if com- 
fortable dwellings constructed upon more advanced 
principles were available. 

Few can have failed to be struck with the elegance 



18 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

of those imposing mansions which extend from Gros- 
venor Gardens to the Victoria Station. They are, of 
course, intended for the abode of the wealthy ; but there 
can be no reasonable doubt that, if measures were taken 
to purify the air, to substitute wooden or other more 
civilized pavement for stone, and to cleanse the foot- 
ways, terrace after terrace of equal pretensions would 
line all the principal thoroughfares of the West 
End. It surely cannot be said that there is a prejudice 
against residing in flats when places like the Cornwall 
Eesidences, with stabling on one side and a railway 
station on the other, are full to overflowing ; when a 
structural monstrosity like that at Queen Anne's Grate, 
situated in one of the lowest localities, finds permanent 
inmates from all parts of the country. People in a 
position to live elsewhere cannot be expected to reside 
where they are not able to walk out without being 
bespattered with mud ; where crossings are left to the 
mercy of erratic Bohemians, and the streets covered 
with slush because those entrusted with the guardian- 
ship of public thoroughfares insist upon or permit their 
being watered whether they require it or not. 

Eeform in these matters cannot be too strougly 
insisted upon. As already stated, Taste concerns itself 
quite as much with the judgment as with sentiment, 
and is substantially synonymous with common sense. 
It would be useless to offer any suggestions for the im- 
provement of street architecture, unless we first deter- 



AETISTIC CONSTRUCTION. 19 

mine whether the foul incubus of chimney smoke which 
has begrimed the metropolis for centuries is to continue 
or be removed ; whether wisdom is to assert itself in 
the management of public ways, or they are to be 
permanently resigned to the eccentric stolidity of petti- 
fogging associations. Surely a law might be passed 
for the substitution, except for manufacturing or 
locomotive purposes, of gas for coal fires. This at a 
stroke would do away with the smoke ; for factories 
and such like are already compelled to consume their 
own. Such a measure would entail no additional 
expense, would be no infringement upon the liberty of 
the subject since no man has a right to vitiate an 
atmosphere which is common property, and so far 
from being a hardship, would be a real boon even to 
those of limited means. It is well known that the 
maintenance of gas fires is, all things considered, no 
more expensive than the maintenance of coal fires ; the 
prime outlay for substitution would be more than 
repaid by the saving in apparel, furniture, window- 
curtains, &c, which are now ruined by soot, and the 
way would be paved for one of the most complete 
transformations ever witnessed in the appearance of 
any city. There is but little apprehension that a more 
extensive consumption of gas would lead to a rise in 
price; for the introduction of electric lighting would 
tend to obviate that ; but even a rise in price would lie 
more than counterbalanced by a saving effected in 

c 'J 



20 ! THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

other ways. What man relishes the idea of spending a 
hundred pounds upon the adornment of his house with 
a coat of paint when he knows that in six months it 
will be as dirty as ever ? "What is the use of erecting 
edifices in stone when before the year is out they are 
to assume the color of mud ? With what object are 
costly images of national heroes set up, if, after one 
brief season, warriors and statesmen are transmuted to 
the semblance of chimney-sweeps ? There is some- 
thing incomprehensible in the circumstance of a people 
arrogating to themselves the leadership in civilization 
consenting day by day, month by month, and year by 
year, to be enveloped in a murky, depressing, artificial, 
and injurious atmosphere. The aspect of London is de- 
scribed by M. Taine as occasionally " appalling " ; those 
who are in a position to migrate will not reside there- 
in the greater part of the twelve months; foreigners 
sneer, and Englishmen grumble ; yet the nuisance 
continues. If it is destined to be perpetuated, the 
few suggestions which may be offered must be re- 
stricted to form alone ; but otherwise, color also, which 
is so indispensable an ingredient in beauty, will attract 
its due share of attention. 

If form alone be treated of it is requisite to denote 
the chief points to be kept in view in forming an 
opinion upon artistic construction. 

The first aim of the architect should be to adapt his 
style to the object of the structure ; the next to impart 



AETISTIC CONSTRUCTION. 21 

animation to his work ; then one part should harmonize 
with another ; unity of design should pervade the 
whole, and the eye must be satisfied by the observance 
of relative proportion. Let anyone say whether the 
Gothic is a style at all suited to a railway terminus 
(vide Liverpool Street Station). The iron-road is 
entirely a thing of modern growth, and therefore 
termini should be erected in some purely modern style. 
Few will dispute the claim of Holloway Jail to be 
regarded, per se, as a handsome and attractive structure ; 
it is a sort of Windsor Castle in miniature, forcibly 
suggestive of all that is alluring in the pomps and 
vanities of this wicked world. Is this the kind of place 
to send criminals to ? The chief argument in favour 
of incarceration is that it exercises a deterrent effect 
upon others. The erection of magnificent and in- 
viting edifices for their reception is not a very effective 
method of furthering the aim of the Legislature. If 
it be desired to depress the feelings and induce a spirit 
of repentance, the most efficacious means would be a 
compulsory residence in the region of Bloomsbury. 
The architecture of that locality is restricted to a 
combination of vertical and horizontal lines, and this 
is the style most suitable to heinous offenders against 
the laws of their country. 

There is nothing more inartistic than that weari- 
some succession of straight lines which is so prominent a 
feature in metropolitan architecture. Even our public 



22 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

buildings — how flat and insipid ! That most recently 
completed — the Foreign Office — looks like a huge 
penitentiary ; and the Law Courts we cannot but 
regard as a simple disgrace to the esthetic perception 
of the English nation. It is indispensable, excepting 
in narrow street architecture, that straight lines should 
be broken and formality relieved by the introduction of 
circles, semicircles, curved roofs, cupolas, bay-windows, 
statuary, and such like. The mansions in Belgravia 
heretofore spoken of are thus relieved, and Burlington 
House owes much of its beauty to the introduction of 
arcs, engaged columns, and rounded pinnacles. For 
these, however, we are indebted to our neighbors. 
With the exception of St. Thomas's Hospital, the 
Natural History Museum, and the Houses of Parlia- 
ment, what modern buildings have we to which we 
can point with pride? We may indeed include the 
Palace at Sydenham, although it be but a glass-and- 
iron structure, and say there is nothing like it in the 
whole of Europe. It is magnificent, no doubt, and 
may be cited in illustration of the effect produced by 
a judicious admixture of semicircles. Yet, those who 
have seen Barry's design must always feel that an 
opportunity was thrown away. He had suggested, in 
addition to the present combination, a central cupola 
with side towers, and had his design been adopted we 
would have been provided with a far more splendid 
edifice than what we now have. As to the South 



AUTISTIC CONSTRUCTION. 23 

Kensington Museum, School of Art, &c, what are 
we to say of them ? We might have expected from 
an institution expressly intended for the cultivation 
of Taste, some embodiment of the national progress ; 
something worthy of admiration and imitation. The 
facade of the Museum is a mere copy from Vene- 
tian Eenaissance, and the School of Art a top- 
heavy monstrosity, remarkable only for ugliness. 

Circles and curves are invaluable as a means of 
imparting animation and elasticity. What would 
London be without the dome of St. Paul's ; or if that 
beautiful civic ornament were transformed into a square 
tower ? Nature has for centuries been suggesting their 
use in the circular horizon and the vaulted canopy of 
the heavens above ; yet we have been insensible to her 
charms. The Saracens rounded their portals ; the Moors 
used the horseshoe ; the Romans welcomed their heroes 
under the triumphal arch. Modern Anglo-Saxons 
have contented themselves with straight sky-lines, flat 
window-heads, and square doors. It is not too much 
to say that every entrance should be arched ; and gene- 
rally, all windows upon a drawing-room floor. The first 
rule has long been acted upon in France ; one of the 
special features in Parisian architecture being the porte 
cochere. Everyone, of course, knows the colonnade at 
Hyde Park Corner. Would not a vast improvement 
be effected by the substitution of some such thing 
as that suggested in Fig. 2? One of the principal 



24 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



charms in the Grosvenor Place mansions lies in their 
arched porticoes. 

But then we must never go beyond the round arch. 
The moment we point it we introduce what is radically 
inappropriate. There is in Nature a remarkable con- 
formity between appearance and reality. The trunk 
of a beech tree not only is stronger than that of a palm, 

Fig. 3. 




ARCS ABOVE SQUARES. 



but it looks so. We know without testing it that the 
proboscis of an elephant is more powerful than the 
human arm, because it is thicker ; and we shall find, as 
a rule, that both vigor and stability are directly denoted 
to the eye. Every curve below the semicircle suggests 
compression ; every curve beyond, loftiness and ultra- 
elasticity. One reason why the " Gothic " is so suitable 



ARTISTIC CONSTEUCTION. 



25 



to ecclesiastical architecture is, that these qualities are 
generally indicated in the style. But it would he 
wrong to indicate, in the lower part of any building 
whatsoever, loftiness and elasticity. On the contrary, 
it should be the aim of the designer to impart an ecrase 
appearance, both to that entire part of the structure, 
and to its component portions. 

Fig. 4. 




ARCS BELOW SQUARES. 



On comparing the preceding diagrams (Figs. 3, 4), 
there will, I think, be no hesitation in accepting iha 
first as the more attractive. This is mainly because 
the upper story is higher than the lower. The prin- 
ciple pervades the Italian style, and finds expression 
likewise in the best Saracenic. One glance at the 
Taj towers (Fig. 1G), and another at the Kntl> Minar, 



26 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



(Fig. 5), will show at once the effect of recognizing or 
ignoring it. It is then but carrying the principle into 
details to say that round arches, excepting for portals, 

should be excluded from 

Fig. 5. 

a lower story (Fig. 3). 

It often happens, of 
course, that buildings can- 
not be viewed from a pro- 
per distance, and that, 
consequently, unless en- 
livening effects be intro- 
duced into the lower story, 
they are altogether lost. 
Yet this is no argument 
for the use of the round 
arch; because a more de- 
pressed arc, or segment, 
is almost equally effective, 
and more appropriate ; 
and not only more appro- 
priate, but they ensure 
more window-room, which 
is rather a desideratum in 
town (Fig. 6). 
One would expect to find this principle recognized 
in the best architecture of the day, and departed from 
only when excused by some obvious necessity. But it 
is not so. In the Carlton Club, and in the Army and 




THE KUTB AT DELHI. 



ARTISTIC CONSTRUCTION. 



27 



Navy, arches are properly placed over squares. In the 
Junior Carlton, which in other respects is a facsimile 
of the Carlton, the arrangement is the very reverse. 
They are all in the same locality, and there is no 
apparent reason for this topsy-turvydom. In the Geo- 
logical Museum (Piccadilly side) not only are square 
windows placed over arched ones, but those of the first 
story are of larger dimensions than those of the second ! 

Fig. 6. 




SEGMENTAL AND SEMICIRCULAR HEADS. 



Xow here is a further departure from principle, for 
there should always be less masonry, and not more, as 
we ascend. 

It will be noticed that I have spoken of the arching 
of windows "upon the drawing-room floor." The re- 
striction implied refers to the inadvisability of carrying 
round arches into the topmost story. A painter will 
aim at confining his most charming combinations to the 
centre of his picture, and in the same way the architec- 
tural draughtsman will do well to limit them to middle 



28 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



stories, preserving invariably some conformity between 
the ground-floor and the attic-story (vide Figs. 3 and 7). 
For ordinary purposes the lozenge (Fig. 7) will indi- 
cate this restricted disposition. 

Not only have curvilinear forms been hitherto 
neglected among us in the embellishment of facades, 
but we have made no use of them in roofing ; whereas 
the French have, and in that respect have outstripped 
us. Cupolas, of course, are out of the question, except- 

Fig. 7. 




THE DISPOSITION OF ARCS. 



ing for edifices of considerable magnitude ; although 
even these, as we noticed when alluding to the rejection 
of Barry's design for the Crystal Palace, have been set 
aside when they might with advantage have been 
adopted. But it is not a little surprising that the 
practice of curving the roof, an expedient so simple, so 
inexpensive, and yet so effective, should not have 
become general. Where the Mansard has been intro- 
duced, there indeed we occasionally find portions arched 



ARTISTIC CONSTRUCTION. 29 



instead of being straight ; but then, this is considered 
part of a specific style. We can point to very few 
instances where, as in the G-rosvenor Hotel, it has 
been adopted irrespectively of style, and solely because 
it is beautiful. There is no reason, too. why square 
windows should not occasionally be replaced by circular 
or elliptical ones, or, at all events, why these should 
not be used in combination with square ones, as 
in the instance of the Town Hall at Hackney. It 
seems odd that we should " go to Hackney ? " for an 
example; yet, is there any in another part of the 
metropolis : 

N one so thoroughly appreciates the beauty of curvi- 
linear forms as M. Gamier, the designer of the National 
Opera House in Paris. There he has introduced a 
ies of arched portals on the ground-floor. So far 
right, inasmuch as each affords ingress and egress, and 
is in no sense a window. Upon the upper floor, how- 
ever, are square-headed, open apertures. Did these stand 
by themselves the effect would be the reverse of that 
which we have been advocating. But over every sqoi 
aperture is a circular one, which not only imparts to 
the square an arched appearance, but in combination 
with intervening columns and other elaborations, rem I 
entire story much more rich and attractive than 
lower. That story, moreover, is higher; then 
a certain correspondency between the latter and the 
attic-story ; the whole is surmounted by a cupola ; the 



30 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

entire upper portion is so ornate that the lower, 
although it contains a series of arched portals, and is 
furthermore enriched to some extent with statuary, is 
tame in comparison, and thus that appearance of stability 
by apparent compression which has already been stated 
to be so desirable, is effectively suggested. 

We need not enter into details by showing how a 
round arch may be made to look depressed by putting 
a square moulding over it, or, conversely, how it may 
be elongated by an elliptical moulding ; how apparent 
stability may further be ensured by confining rough 
stonework and rubble or vermiculated masonry to the 
lower parts, placing round columns over square columns, 
and elaborated capitals over plain ones, for these are 
but applications of the same fundamental law. I could 
point to innumerable instances where the order above 
indicated has been reversed, but have no intention of 
wearying the reader. There are two more points, how- 
ever, to which attention may particularly be drawn. 
If a building is to be erected in the Italian style, by all 
means let every detail conform therewith; if in the 
Gothic style, let all be Gothic. But are we to be per- 
petually imitating one style and another, always copy- 
ing and never progressing ? If there is one thing 
which appears to haunt the mind of the British 
designer it is the vision of a modillion. There are, 
unfortunately, very few balconies in London ; the only 
way in which one can obtain a whiff of refreshing air 



AETISTIC CONSTRUCTION. 



31 



during summer is by going out of doors. But wherever 
there is a balcony, it is somehow so peculiarly associated 
with Italian skies and Italian processions that it is 
regarded as an Italian thing, and supported upon 
Italian modillions. In fact, the modillion is used 
even for purely ornamental purposes. It stood on end 
upon Temple Bar, and was there called a " truss." 
I do not know what designation it assumes when 

Fig. S. 




THE MODILLION-BRACKET. 



] 'laced upon its back, but thus we find it at the base 
of the fountain in the so-called " Gardens " of Leicester 
Square, a noteworthy tribute, indeed, to the fertility of 
native inventiveness. Now, the form of the modillion, 
ht me submit, is essentially wrong (Fig. 8). Xo ad- 
junct should look like an excrescence, but be brought 
into unison with the substantive structure; and the 1 
method of accomplishing this is to connect it by concave 



32 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



and not by convex lines. It is as absurd to engraft a 
balcony upon the main edifice by convex supports as it 
would be to curve the arches of a bridge downwards 
instead of upwards (Fig. 9). It cannot, at all 
events, be pretended that an oriel window is of 
Italian origin. That of the Thatched House Club 
is supported, as it ought to be, upon solid masonry, 
let well into the wall, gradually tapering to a point 
several feet below, and curved inwards (Fig. 10). The 

Fig. 9. 




CONVEX AND CONCAVE LINES. 



mind is satisfied at a glance with the stability of the 
thing ; it at once commends itself as an integral portion 
of the edifice ; it does not seem to have been subse- 
quently put on, or to be in any manner an afterthought. 
Now turn to that recently erected " noble mansion," 
134, Piccadilly. There we find, not merely one, but two 
ponderous bay-windows resting upon one single slender 
bracket not twelve inches in width, and shaped, of 
course, to the form of the modillion. Is this artistic 
construction ? Is this the way to satisfy the eye ? It 



ARTISTIC CONSTRUCTION. 



33 



is possible, we know, in this age of cast-iron, to erect 
a massive bay-window upon a four-inch stanchion ; — 
indeed, Truefitt has such a one in Cork Street devoid 
of any apparent support whatever. We expect some- 
thing better from those who design " noble " edifices 
for the most fashionable quarters of our capital. Not 
only is the form of the bracket in common use wrong, 

Fig. 10. 




ORIEL WINDOW, THATCHED HOUSE CLUB. 



but half the masonry, as may be seen from the dotted 
line in Fig. 8, is absolutely thrown away, affording, as it 
does, no support at all. The lines which might be sub- 
stituted are denoted in the following sketch (Fig. 11). 

Again, stability is further ensured by deep cornices, 
for these apparently knit together at the top, and by 
quoins, which seem to clamp at the sides. Now, cor- 
nices are scarcely thought of among us. Without cxcep- 



34 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



tion almost, they are poor and meagre to a degree ; and 
when amplitude and ornation are attempted, observe 
how frequently with what result. The primary object 
in building a house is to ensure the comfort of those 
who are to inhabit it. No architect would seriously 
maintain that that and convenience of inmates ought 

Fig. 11. 




PROPEK LINES FOE BRACKETS. 



in any way to be sacrificed to outward display. Yet 
is not this virtually averred? Look at the Grros- 
venor. It is an admirable specimen of generally effec- 
tive exterior design. But an entire floor is rendered 
almost useless, because the cornice which runs just over 
the windows, and the bulging consoles which support 
it, deprive every room of its proper share of light. 






ARTISTIC CONSTRUCTION. 



35 



The same defect may be noticed in the Scarborough 
Grand (Fig. 12), and in the entresol story of the Regent's 
Quadrant. 

As to the matter of quoins, the effect which they 
ought to impart is absolutely neutralized when divided 
at the angle by a continuous seam in the manner shown 

Fig. 12. 




ORNAMENT versus COMFORT. 



in Fig. 13. In the majority of cases, however, we 
find neither quoins nor cornices, in the true sense of the 
terms — not even proper mouldings or architraves round 
the windows to atone for the absence of tlio.se simple 
appendages which give so much life to domestic archi- 
tecture on the Continent, viz. Venetian shutters. 

i) 2 



36 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



In the suggestion for park gates (Fig. 2), the 
reader will notice a regular gradation from squares at 
both sides to a circle in the middle. This illustrates 
not alone that kind of harmony which should govern 
the disposition of angular and curvilinear form, but the 
achievement of proportion by adopting as a basis some 
simple geometrical figure. 

Fig. 13. 




QUOINS WITH OPEN SEAM. 



The best proportioned edifices are all constructed 
upon a geometrical basis ; the ordinary facade of the 
Grecian portico, for example ; the triumphal arch of 
the Eoman (Fig. 14), and the dome of the Saracen 
(Fig. 15), being respectively comprised within, or 
designed upon the simple circle. The Grecian octo- 
style was based upon two intersecting circles, the 



ARTISTIC CONSTRUCTION. 



37 



Gothic cathedral upon a combination of intersecting 
circles ; and that most exquisite structure, the Taj at 

Fig. 14. 




roman triumphal arch. 
Fig. 15. 




THE 8ARACENIC DOME. 



Agra, will be found to lie substantially within a rect- 
angular isosceles triangle (Fig. 16). The last is a figure 



38 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



which may be adopted with much effect in all edifices 
of considerable magnitude, and in the disposition of 
outlying structures (Fig. 17). 

Fig. 16. 




THE TAJ MAHUL. 



An appropriate foundation once obtained, diversity 
of arrangement may be almost infinite ; but any marked 

Fig. 17. 




TEIANGULAR DISPOSITION. 



departure from a satisfactory basis will invariably pro- 
duce a disagreeable result. 



AKTISTIC CONSTRUCTION. 39 

In monumental construction it is almost a sine qud 
non, unless the columnar form be adopted, that all but 
the most trifling details should fall within a triangle 
projected from the base of the monument itself; other- 
wise an overbalanced appearance is sure to ensue, as in 
the case of the Albert Memorial, which, in this respect 
alone, compares unfavorably with Walter Scott's in 
Edinburgh. And the nearer we get to the apex the 
more careful should we be that no material portion 
of the fabric overlaps (Fig. 18). 

Whenever practicable there might be, more especially 
in detached buildings, some suggestion of triangularity, 
or — which comes to the same thing — the salient angles 
of superstructures may be comprised within an arc 
struck, never from the ground, but always towards it. 
It frequently happens that extensive ranges are fur- 
nished with end or flanking towers, introduced for the 
purpose of rendering them imposing and of amplifying 
width. There can be no objection to adjuncts of this 
description, but if central towers or cupolas be added, it 
is indispensable that these should be both laterally 
larger and of greater altitude. In Grosvenor Place 
we discover the very converse of this. It cannot be 
said that this is part of the Mansard style, because 
instances to the contrary are available in that very 
locality; but even if it were, it is incumbent upon 
us to effect improvements if they can be accomplished 
without detriment to leading characteristics. 



40 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



The principle which regulates the gradual transition 
from squares at the sides to the circle in the middle, 
as exemplified in Fig. 2, demands also that cen- 
tral superstructures should, as a rule, be arcuated; 

Fig. 18. 




THE ALBERT MEMORIAL. 



and not only arcuated but, generally, more elaborated 
— being enriched with circular windows, statuary, and 
such like. Of course, it may sometimes be preferable 
to have the entire configuration angular, in which case, 



AUTISTIC CONSTRUCTION. 



41 



provided the rule laid down in the last paragraph be 
conformed with, harmony of one kind, i. e. harmony 
by uniformity, is ensured. But, if curves be used in 
combination with angular forms, the arrangement in 




SHAPES AND SIZES FOR SUPERSTRUCTURES. 



Fig. 



19 will be found far more beautiful than that 
in 20 ; although numerous examples of the latter have 
emanated from the studios of well-known draughts- 
men. 




SHAPES AND SIZES FOR SUPERSTRUCTURES. 



In addition to the points above enumerated, it will 
be noticed that the gates themselves in Fig. 2 are not 
of the ordinary shape, but depressed at the top instead 
of being curved upwards. It may seem contradictory 
that, having written in favor of arcs struck upward 
from the ground, I should now advocate a deflection. 



42 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



But there are reasons for this. Firstly, to ensure 
apparent stability by making the gate more massive at 
the swing than at the close ; and secondly, to obtain 
that form in the aperture above which is not only in 
itself more beautiful than the usual crescent or semi- 
circle, but which is most associated with lightness and 
elasticity. 

Fig. 21. 




GATE CURVES. 



In the preceding diagrams (Fig. 21) the gate at the 
entrance to Constitution Hill is represented by B ; that 
of the Marble Arch by ; and the shape which might 
more effectively be substituted, by D. When there is 
no archway over the gate it ought properly to be 
raised in the middle to ensure that appearance of tri- 
angularity already commended (A) ; otherwise, tri- 
angularity is suggested in the archway itself; and this 



ARTISTIC CONSTKUCTION. 43 

may with advantage be supplemented by the additional 
attraction of an open circle beneath. 

What proportion these gates should bear to the cir- 
cular aperture above, depends very much upon indi- 
vidual judgment. It is impossible to lay down rules. 
The details of proportion constitute the most em- 
barrassing branch of architectural study; for no sub- 
ject could originally have been so entirely regulated by 
the eye. Who can say icliy a column of the Parthenon 
should be precisely as long and broad as it is, or why 
plinth and abacus should assume the relative dimen- 
sions we find them ? We all feel that the cupola of 
the National Gallery is ridiculously small, and that 
that of the Capitol at Washington is overpoweringly 
huge. Yet few can tell how large or how small these 
ought to be without first comparing them with one 
so accurately sized as that of St. Paul's. Neverthe- 
less, the observance of proportion is a matter which 
demands the earnest attention of all draughtsmen, for 
the absence thereof is certainly a leading defect in our 
mode of construction. 

All these observations, however — about arches and 
such like — are made upon the supposition that the 
dominant styles, or pseudo-styles, will continue to 
retain their place in public estimation. Much as I 
differ from those who commend the pointed Gothic as 
suitable to public buildings, business premises, and 
family dwellings, I have no intention of urging the 



44 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



substitution, in its integrity, of any other method of 
construction, except for occasional blocks or edifices. 
At the same time I have no hesitation in declaring 
a predilection for the salient features of the neglected 
and much abused Elizabethan. Square, partially 
splayed, expansive windows, uniformity of surface, and 
long, unbroken, horizontal mouldings, are far better 
adapted to street architecture than either a combi- 

Fig. 22. 




THE VENETIAN WINDOW. 



nation of columns with Italian apertures, which are 
florid without and exclude the proper fall of light 
within (Fig. 22), or a succession of mere perforations 
with no more pretensions to beauty than squares sliced 
out of a water-melon. Peaky sky-lines, gable dormers, 
and red brick are not indispensable concomitants. 

Of course it will be said that there is no lack of 
genuine ability in the country ; that the peculiarities of 
our land tenure preclude the display of artistic elabora- 



ARTISTIC CONSTRUCTION. 45 

tion ; that if a tenement becomes the property of the 
landowner after the expiration of a ninety-nine year 
lease, the object is to ran it up at the smallest possible 
expense ; that terrace after terrace and mansion after 
mansion are erected by men who are not professional 
architects, and whose only aim is to render them habit- 
able. To a great many of the defects already pointed 
out these excuses have no application. Nevertheless, 
there can be no question that the peculiarities of our 
tenure are a considerable drawback to the development 
of tasteful construction. But why, let it be asked, are 
these peculiarities permitted to stand in the way ? It 
being nobody's business to concern himself about such 
matters, it cannot be expected either that the defects 
of tenure will be rectified, or that the best efforts of 
professional ability will be properly appreciated, unless 
the attention of the public is drawn to the principles 
which should govern its applause and condemnation. 
There is every conceivable variety of edifice in London. 
It is no one's duty to enforce uniformity. Xor is the 
advantage of uniformity recognized, for Mr. Fergusson 
himself, a most learned authority, tells us that the 
design for the Houses of Parliament ought to have 
*•'/ with Westminster Hall and the Abbey. 
Contrast is all very well in a country village or b - 
side town; but, beyond all quu.-tion, harmony by simi- 
larity should be the rule in every capital or large city. 



46 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



CHAPTER II. 

DETAILS AND ACCESSORIES. 

It would be interesting to note the multitude of faults 
and failings commonly ascribed to the exigencies of 
trade. " We are essentially a commercial people," it is 
said. "Your rules for obtaining an ecrase appearance 
may be all very well for ornamental structures and for 
the abodes of the wealthy, but we require more space 
on the ground-floor than upon any other, and, especially 
in street architecture, as much window-room for the 
display of our wares as possible. Cast-iron is cheap, 
cast-iron is substantial, and if we can support three or 
four successive stories upon cast-iron stanchions, be 
they as slender as they may, so much the better for 
us. Beauty must succumb to the demands of utility." 
Now, we do not find that in Nature beauty is sacrificed 
to utility. On the contrary, they go hand in hand. 
It is not the province of Taste to impede the interests 
of Commerce, but rather to aid them. Howsoever lofty 
a ground-floor may be, the appearance of stability by 
compression may always be ensured by the simple ex- 
pedient of grouping the first and second. And as to 
the matter of iron stanchions, it is very easy to satisfy 



DETAILS AND ACCESSOEIES. 



47 



the eye and secure, at the same time, the object which 
the tradesman has in view. In the following figure 
(Fig. 23) are three pillars of identical width. One is 
triangular, the other cylindrical, the third is flat. 
Which of these is apparently capable of resisting the 
greatest pressure? Undoubtedly the last, because it 
presents the largest surface to the eye. Sectionally, the 

Fig. 23. 




APPARENT 'WIDTH IN PILLARS. 



quantity of metal in each may be the same — the last 
may be merely the first reversed — yet it looks more 
massive ; it satisfies the spectator, and that is sufficient. 
So far from the demands of Taste clashing with the re- 
quirements of trade, they are of material assistance to it. 
For example, one of the chief defects in our urban archi- 
tecture is the comparatively large space allotted to brick 
and mortar. It is better to have several windows, and 



48 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

these of ample dimensions, and to temper the light 
admitted through them by putting up ground glass or 
French curtains, than to dazzle and distract by one or 
two windows of lesser size. In order to ensure the 
maximum of light, Taste would necessitate the adoption 
of some such thing as the chamfered edge, which not 
only permits its admission from the sides as well as 
from the front, but is more decorative than an ordi- 
nary wall or square pilaster. Indeed, there is no more 
beautiful window, and none is more suitable to domestic 
architecture, than the Elizabethan, to which, and to 
the Gothic, the chamfered edge has hitherto exclusively 
appertained. At the same time we must bear in mind 
what has already been said about the adaptation of 
style to the purposes for which a building is intended, 
and not import the Elizabethan in its integrity — or 
even Elizabethan perforations in their integrity — into 
the modern shop, for the two are incompatible. I have 
seen a building in the Gothic style devoted to the sale 
of hams and bacon. Few will deny that there is an 
incongruity in this which ought to be scrupulously 
avoided. But a mere detail like that above spoken of, 
which is really suitable to any, and offers such obvious 
advantages, might be adopted universally without out- 
raging the rules of harmony. In fact, even on the 
ground-floor, edges which are usually left square might 
be beveled off, provided the width of the supports 
admit of this. 



DETAILS AND ACCESSOEIES. 49 

The necessity for satisfying the eye cannot be better 
illustrated than by pointing, by way of example, to 
those sculptured supports popularly known as Caryates, 
and to their companions the Atlantes. Caryates were, 
originally, representations of the priestesses serving in 
the Temple of Diana Caryatis ; but, being found in 
certain specimens of Grecian architecture, they came to 
be regarded in some measure as part of the Grecian 
style, and so were imported into England when classic 
design came into fashion. What idea of support is 
conveyed by these things ? It is all very well to say 
of the church of St. Pancras that it is a copy of the 
Erechtheium, and that therefore they are very properly 
there. "We find the same things in a private residence 
in Park Lane, which, of course, is neither a copy of the 
Erechtheium nor of any other Athenian edifice. From 
the Society of Painters in Water-colors we might have 
expected something worthy of imitation. In their new 
facade, however, a massive stone balcony is supported 
upon the heads of four figures who all but succumb to 
superincumbent pressure, and give rise to a most painful 
sense of incongruity. The ancients represented Atlas 
as bearing upon his shoulders the whole weight of the 
terrestrial globe. But Atlas was an individual of pro- 
digious physical power, and the earth, being repre- 
sented in miniature, was not too much for him. This 
much cannot be said of unfortunate Caryates. 

Once admit the propriety of such images, and the 



50 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



transition to other animal forms excites no surprise. 
Indeed, there is always some latent symbolism at hand 
as a pretext for the introduction of the most ex- 
travagant absurdity. Eastlake, in his work on the 



Fig. 24. 







THE FIGUEE COEBEL. 



6 Gothic Kevival/ eulogizes with enthusiasm such 
things as the above (Fig. 24), and regrets the 
paucity, in these degenerate days, of similar specimens 
of the sculptor's Art. I do not think he would have 
had cause for regret had he seen some of our recently- 



DETAILS AND ACCESSOEIES. 



51 



Fig. 25. 



erected edifices. The accompanying sketch is from 
the new church in Harrogate (Fig. 25). For those 
infatuated by the fascinations of legendary lore, such 
subjects may possibly possess some charmingly mystic 
significance ; but to others, 
who look upon analogy with 
Nature as indispensable to 
harmony, it is not easy to 
comprehend why an angelic 
being should be found peer- 
ing out from under the base 
of a column, or how any 
being in human form is ap- 
parently able to sustain the 
load of a superincumbent 
mass of solid masonry. 

Nothing in the figure of 
Atlas offends the eye, or 
gives rise to that sensation of 
ludicrous incongruity which 

one cannot but experience on beholding a row of 
females standing bolt upright, and sustaining, without 
the slightest indication of an effort, the weight of 
some enormous entablature, or of pain upon discover- 
ing that a hood-moulding is apparently inserted into 
the cranium of an Apostle. A Religious Society in 
Piccadilly favors us with a balcony supported upon 
a series of spread-eagles; and Trubner, in Ludgate 




A SAINTLY SUPPORT. 



E 2 



52 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



Hill, has one propped up by elephants. I do not 
know what significance may attach to the following 
exquisite combination (Fig. 26), nor is it necessary 
to enquire ; but if within the whole range of barbaric 
design anything can be discovered more absurd than a 

Fig. 26. 




CANTILIVER IN GRAND HOTEL. BRIGHTON. 



cat squatted upon the head of a ram, and in that 
posture affording structural support, the projector may 
credit himself with enviable ingenuity. 

It is common enough to find an aegis of symbolism 
thrust forward as a protection against the legitimate 



DETAILS AND ACCESSORIES. 53 

censure of criticism ; but there can be no question 
that the popular taste leans towards the imitation of 
natural forms, and that every excuse is resorted to for 
their retention. This predilection is, indeed, common 
in all countries when art is in its infancy ; the Hindu 
pagodas, for instance, being covered with one mass of 
figures. The ruthless Mahomed, probably perceiving 
the bent of his peoples' inclination, sternly prohibited 
this style of ornation ; and, whatever may be said of 
his motives, the prohibition resulted in the most ex- 
quisite embellishment the world ever saw. The foun- 
tain on the next page (Fig. 27), is that of the New 
Steyne at Brighton. We will not dispute the propriety 
of delineating dolphins upon any monument by the 
sea-coast, or even in the ornamentation of riparian 
structures. Yet, both these and every other "monster 
of the deep " should be restricted to such places, and 
portrayed as accomplishing such evolutions only, as are 
compatible with their natural organization. On the 
Thames embankment they are twined round lamp-posts, 
and, in the example before us, are not only upon dry 
land, but combined together for the purpose of sus- 
taining a huge bowl of ponderous granite upon their 
tails ! Surely, there is no analogy with Nature in this ! 
Dolphins might very properly be represented in the 
adornment of a fountain; but they should be confined 
to the base of the structure, and disport themselves in 
the water. Indeed, the utmost latitude is permissible 



54 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



in monuments so purely ornamental, nevertheless, we 
must guard against 

" O'erstepping the modesty of Nature." 

We are so accustomed to borrow, and to import into 
this country whatever has achieved success in another, 

Fig. 27. 




VICTORIA FOUNTAIN, BRIGHTON. 



that it is necessary to note the existence of similar 
absurdities among some of the most celebrated designs 



DETAILS AND ACCESSOEIES. 55 

of our neighbors. In the Place de la Concorde is a 
pair of fountains which, as a whole, are perfectly 
charming. One noteworthy feature is that the water 
not only falls after being thrown up, but is cast upward 
again, so that there is an alternation of jets traveling 
in reverse directions. The basins are adorned with 
figures of Tritons and Nereids, each of whom is pro- 
vided with one of the finny tribe, which spouts a jet 
upward. So far good; all is appropriate. The first, 
however, are disconnected from the water, and not 
sufficiently large to hold a couple of gallons. Whence, 
then, issue these continuous streams, excepting from 
pipes obviously leading through the bodies of the 
Tritons and Nereids ! 

Are we, then, it may be asked, to abolish symbolism 
and refuse the co-operation of the plastic arts? Far 
from it. Statuary is eminently decorative, and capable 
of producing upon the mind the most solemn and 
fascinating impression. But the reasonable demands of 
congruity must be conformed with ; and these may be 
satisfied without detriment to the efficacy of symbolism. 
If it be desired to retain the eagle upon the lectern, the 
Sacred Volume need not rest upon its back. If fruits 
and flowers perpetuate the recognition of Divine bene- 
ficence, there can be no objection to grouping them 
within a moulding over the portal. If the presence 
of saints recalls the virtues of Christian fortitude, 
they may manifest themselves in appropriate niches. 



56, 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



Seraphic beings alone may soar aloft in the ceiling. 
Yet neither these nor the others must be made to 
officiate as structural supports, or appear to be engaged 
in that duty. Harmony is not outraged in the group- 
ing of the ascension in the Madeleine. 

In sober truth, symbolism, as already stated, is fre- 
quently a mere pretext for the introduction of such 
things as indicate an absence of truly artistic perception, 
and the disposition to take refuge therein is fostered by 
writers who affect to discover in abnormal coincidences 
significations of the most profound and mysterious 
character. M. Blanc, in his work upon * Ornament 
and Dress,' 1 fancies he recognizes in the Yitruvian 
scroll (Fig. 28) a striking resemblance "to a troop of 

Fig. 28. 




THE VITRrVIAN SCROLL. 



maidens pursuing each other in regular cadence, as if 
in the sacred dance." Lubke tells us that animals' paws 
were imitated on ancient candelabra "in order to de- 
note the movable character of these graceful articles." 2 
The church steeple, we are informed by Dresser, and 

1 P. 5. 3 ' Hist, of Art,' p. 268. 



DETAILS AND ACCESSORIES. 57 

the long lines of the clustered column, point heaven- 
wards "to direct our thoughts to God." 1 The un- 
dulations in the pavement of St. Mark's are said to 
" typify the stormy seas of life " ; 2 and even in the 
circumstance of the Outram statue facing the south, 
and thus turniog its back upon the fashionable quarters 
of London, is detected " a mute reminder that his 
greatest victories in the east were achieved without 
the adjuncts of modern civilization." It is not easy 
to comprehend that condition of mind which needs the 
presence of vertical lines to direct one's thoughts to 
the Supreme Being ; but I have no hesitation in saying 
that, despite the " lofty mission," ascribed to sculptors 
and architects, their primary duty is to satisfy the eye ; 
that the less obtrusive their efforts to " ennoble and 
elevate their fellow-men," 3 the more likely they will be 
to achieve this result ; and that the purpose for which 
figures are introduced ought to be openly manifest. 

Let us now consider the conditions under which 
statuary may be combined with architecture, and which 
should regulate its disposition when detached from 
surroundings. In the first place, I would deprecate 
entirely the representation of modern celebrities, ex- 
cepting in such places wherein, in real life, one might 
expect the originals to have been found. In the next 
place, I would exclude from facade and sky-line all 

1 ' Principles of Decorative Art,' p. 12. a Eastlake's 'Gothic Revival. 1 
3 Dresser, p. 12. 



58 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

subjects which are not purely allegorical or emblematic. 
And finally, I would advocate, as a rule, the grouping 
of figures in lieu of their isolation. Let us take in 
illustration of the first-mentioned proposition the well- 
known Nelson column in Trafalgar Square. A grateful 
nation erected that monument, with what object? Was 
it to hand down to posterity a likeness of the individual, 
or to perpetuate the recollection of his glorious deeds ? 
If to hand down a likeness of the man, that object is 
defeated by the very altitude of the eminence upon 
which his image is placed. If to perpetuate the recol- 
lection of his deeds, would not this object have been 
better attained by surmounting the column with an 
emblem of Victory ? Would not both objects have 
been attained by setting up Victory on the top, and 
the great admiral himself within a niche at the base ? 
Who would expect to find Nelson standing upon a 
column more than a hundred feet in height? His 
effigy ought to be set up where he himself, when 
living, might have been found; not in an impossible 
position ; one, which he could not, in the ordinary 
course of terrestrial economy, have occupied. And 
the like observation applies to the statues of Chatham, 
Peel, Cobden, Clyde, and every celebrated person 
whose memory has been handed down to posterity in 
this manner. Would anyone look for the Iron Duke 
on his charger upon the top of an arch at Hyde Park 
Corner? The ideas which suggest themselves to the 



DETAILS AXD ACCESSORIES. 59 

mind upon beholding this renowned sample of British 
taste are certainly perplexing. How did they get 
there ? How are they sustained in their place ? 
There is no visible support beyond the slender legs of 
the quadruped, and the sensation arising from the vision 
of a noble warrior perpetually pointing with out- 
stretched arm in the direction of an imaginary foe, is, 
to say the least of it, the contrary of agreeable. It may 
be that this wretched memorial is now condemned by 
the judgment of the country, although the circumstance 
of its still being permitted to stand in so conspicuous 
a locality somewhat militates against this surmise ; 
but has there been any perceptible improvement since 
it was set up ? A statue of Peabody was but recently 
unveiled at the back of the Royal Exchange. The 
noble philanthropist is represented as seated in an 
arm-chair, and since nothing so unpoetic as a modern 
hat could properly be introduced into a work of Art, 
we discover him to be without one. Let us ask 
whether Peabody himself would have sat there bare- 
headed and exposed, throughout the year, to the vicis- 
situdes and inclemency of the English weather ? His 
countenance, so far as it is discernible through an in- 
crustation of soot, beams with benevolence; but tin's 
ciily renders the incongruity of the whole thing more 
remarkable. 

Taste demands that in our representations of Nature 
we should conform with the harmony of Nature. The 



60 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

apotheosized heroes of antiquity ; the Muses, the Fates, 
and other impersonifications of the poetic ages ; the 
whole heavenly host of Saints and Angels ; Britannia, 
Justice, Concord, Liberty, Commerce, Plenty — these 
may be exalted far above the level of the eye ; Yictory 
may raise on high her crowning laurels ; Bellerophon 
scamper towards heaven astride his winged - horse, 
Pegasus, and the tutelary deities watch by night over 
the various cities they protect; but, in the name of 
common sense, let us set up the effigies of historic 
celebrities — men of flesh and blood like ourselves — in 
such places as they might have occupied as living 
beings. Mercury may ascend above the summit of a 
pinnacle, but a Duke of York cannot. Phoebus, with 
his chariot and all his fiery steeds, may greet the risirig 
sun from the sky-line of the loftiest edifice, but the 
most appropriate position for Wellington on his charger 
would be in the vicinity of terra Jirma. 

The achievements of historic celebrities may be as 
effectually commemorated by the erection of a memorial 
as by setting up a statue, and it cannot be too forcibly 
insisted that the proper place for the likeness of a 
human being is within doors or at the entrance of a 
building. In the Court of the Guildhall is a drinking- 
font, whereon is represented the great Law-giver strik- 
ing the rock for the purpose of allaying the thirst of 
the multitude. As an all but supernatural being, he 
might have been portrayed in the most exposed situa- 



DETAILS AXD ACCESSORIES. 61 

tion. Nevertheless, he is placed within a recess ; pro- 
tected from the frequent downpours of heaven. Com- 
pare this highly suggestive monument with any similar 
object since executed. With all our so-called art-culture, 
what progress have we made in artistic construction ? 
One languid insipidity of design characterizes all our 
drinking-fonts. Next to that on the north side of 
Hyde Park, near the Marble Arch, the best is, probably, 
that in Regent's Park — adorned with a bust of Her 
Majesty on one side, Cowasji Ready Money on the other ! 

It seems to have entirely escaped our draughtsmen 
that the primary object in erecting a monument is to 
render it ornamental. For this purpose if figures are 
selected they should be fanciful. Suppose, in lieu of 
Apollo and those other highly decorative statues which 
impart such grace to the Opera House in Paris, M. 
Gamier had studded the edifice with images of re- 
nowned musicians, what would the effect have been ? 
Is Sir Robert Peel in a frock-coat and trousers de- 
corative ? Are square blocks, such as our monumental 
pedestals generally are, ornamental ? Are fonts like 
that by the Spa at Scarborough (Fig. 29) proper 
adornments for a " Queen of Watering-places ? " Is 
tlie Duke of Wellington's horse a proper object to be 
introduced within the sacred precincts of a metro- 
politan cathedral ? 

Yet it is not difficult to divine the cause of tin's 
barren insipidity. It is the disposition to treat Taste 



62 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



as a matter of sentiment rather than of judgment. 
When the proper site for Cleopatra's Needle was under 
deliberation, it was strenuously maintained that Parlia- 
ment Square was the most fitting locality, on account 
of " its venerable associations ! " When the Leicester 

Fig. 29. 




DRINKIXG-FONT AT SCARBOROUGH. 



Square " Gardens" were thrown open to the public, 
they were adorned with a " fountain " crowned with 
a statue of Shakespear ! At intervals this immortal 
Bard was surrounded, not by graceful nymphs of the 
grove or other artistic subjects to captivate and delight 
the eye, but by busts of Newton, Hunter, Hogarth, 
and Eeynolds ; for no other reason than because they 
once resided in that neighborhood ! 



DETAILS AND ACCESSORIES. 63 

Immediately in front of the central transept of the 
Crystal Palace is a huge bust of Sir Joseph Paxton, 
upon an enormous square block of mock porphyry — 
we seldom appear to get beyond the square block. 
Everyone knows that Paxton was the architect; but 
what business has this idol-like image there ? As a 
work of Art it is simply hideous; it harmonizes with 
nothing, and as to any similitude to the original which 
it might possess, the effect of that is destroyed by the 
chocolate hue of the material in which it is executed. 
Upon each side of this transept are worse things still, 
namely Egyptian sphinxes. It was originally pro- 
posed to line the approach with a double row of these 
Coptic abominations, but happily this poetic conception 
never developed into maturity. It was necessary, of 
course, to bring within the precincts of such an institu- 
tion specimens of art-work from all quarters of the 
globe, but it was not necessary to incorporate them, 
as it were, and treat them as integral portions of a 
purely British edifice. 

There is, perhaps, no institution from which we 
may learn so much to avoid as the South Ken- 
sington. At the very entrance one's attention is 
arrested by Bell's " Deer Slayer," and a statue of 
Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy. Probably it may be urged 
that these are there temporarily. But this is no 
excuse. Accessories should harmonize with the cha- 
racter of the edifice, and if statuary has no obvious 



64 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

connection with the nature of the institution, it had 
better be relegated to some appropriate locality, and 
reserved for strictly exhibitional purposes. 

It is difficult to discover any ruling principle either 
in the introduction of modern statuary or in the use 
made of any of the imitative arts when combined with 
architecture. Can anyone tell why the frieze of the 
Albert Hall is adorned with " subjects illustrative of 
the History of Man " ? why Mercury, Pluto, and other 
heroes of pagan mythology figure upon the walls of the 
St. James's Hall grill-room ? or for what purpose the 
poet Shakespear is set upon a pedestal in the table- 
d'hote saloon of the Criterion Eestaurant ? Under the 
cornice which runs round the " Great Hall" of the 
latter place, are emblazoned the names of Chaucer, 
Byron, Goethe, Schiller, Purcell, Dante, Bach, Rossini, 
and a host of notables who have no more connection 
with the development of gastronomic science than the 
Hebrew Patriarchs. Even the venerable Homer and 
Pythagoras are included. The preposterousness- of this 
will, perhaps, be at once admitted. Yet there is no 
perceptible difference between this kind of decoration 
and that of the Albert Hall. 

Even when a device happens to be appropriate, it is 
too frequently employed in such a manner as to excite 
derision rather than approbation. Not only does the 
same spirit which actuated the narrow-minded de- 
signers of the Georgian epoch still seem to linger in 



DETAILS AND ACCESSOEIES. 65 

the British breast, but devices are repeated, and re- 
peated ad nauseam. Even as the tobacconist of the last 
century denoted his calling by placing at his door the 
familiar image of a Highland snuff-taker, so there is 
scarcely a dining-hall in London wherein we do not 
find the head of a bull as an indication of the beefy 
comestibles obtainable for the asking. In the Horse- 
Shoe — the most recently erected of all — numerous 
members of the finny tribe are rendered, for the 
purpose of shewing that their prototypes are at hand ; 
and in several well-known establishments the shells of 
defunct turtles are suspended against the wall to 
indicate the availability of soup. All this vulgarity 
is not confined to the trading community, for we 
have only to turn to the British Museum to discover 
the same display there. A succession of lions upon 
the outer railing obviously means that the edifice is 
British ; and the conglomeration of articles upon the 
gates — the Grecian urns, Corinthian capitals, shells of 
the ocean, eagles'-heads, and dolphins — these certainly 
signify Museum. This may be an ingenious method 
of symbolizing the nature of an institution ; but it is 
just as unnecessary as that adopted by the tobacconist 
or restaurant proprietor. Most persons know the 
depressing edifice when they see it, and those who do 
not, would never guess what it is from these exterior 
typifications. It would be of no avail to pretend that 
the lion is merely emblematic, for a multiplicity of 

F 



66 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

emblems is as ridiculous as a reduplication of realistic 
representations. Along the whole length of the em- 
bankment are countenances of this ferocious monarch 
of the forest, furnished with huge iron rings for the 
purpose of facilitating navigation. Whether these be 
simply emblematic or not, is not the eye wearied by 
their uninterrupted consecution ? Would not the rings 
be better inserted into objects more ostensibly capable 
of holding them ? In the Royal Aquarium at West- 
minster, in addition to the customary dolphins carved 
upon the facade, there are fish delineated in mosaic 
upon the floor. Is not this intended as an intimation 
that creatures of the aquatic world are visible within ? 
An emblem, properly speaking, should be purely 
suggestive ; it should be set up, as a rule, over the 
entrance, and, like the White Horse of Inner Temple 
or Lamb of the Middle, stand by itself. 






CHIAEOSCUEO AND COLOR. 67 



CHAPTEE III. 

CHIAROSCURO AND COLOR. 

Chiaroscuro is that branch of art-study which em- 
braces, not only the effect producible by light and 
shade, but by the use of light and dark colors. 
Architecture on the Continent enjoys an advantage 
which that of our island home does not possess, in an 
almost diurnal play of sunshine. We may erect facades 
with southern aspects, enrich them with engaged 
columns, provide recesses, and cap them with ample 
cornices ; all to little purpose, as far as Chiaroscuro is 
concerned, unless we supplement the baffled efforts 
of Nature to break through a leaden atmosphere by 
suggesting, artificially, the effect of sunlight. I put it to 
the reader whether an improvement in urban archi- 
tecture would not be effected by a lavish use of paint, 
and also by filling in spaces between mouldings, 
triglyphs, pateras, quoins, and generally all inter- 
stices — even backgrounds to bas-reliefs — with rich 
brown or deep Venetian red. This, indeed, would bo 
an innovation, and it might be that prejudice would 
prevent its adoption ; but this would soon vanish when 
we come to perceive that the question is merely one of 

F 2 



68 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

utilization. There is no aversion against the use of 
color per se ; on the contrary, there is a decided pre- 
dilection for it. To a certain extent this innovation has 
been attempted in the Burlington Restaurant, Regent 
Street ; but, unless the lead be taken in buildings of a 
superior type, the popular mind can scarcely be 
expected to follow it. 

So far from there being a prejudice against the use 
of color, there is a prevailing rage for red brick and 
marone. For my own part, I think that nothing 
would so transform the aspect of London, notwith- 
standing the cloud of smoke which now envelopes it, as 
a copious application of creamy-white paint. But, 
assuming that we continue the same mode of warming 
and cooking which has come down to us from our 
early forefathers, and that the process of painting is too 
expensive in an atmosphere impregnated with soot, 
let us consider the claims of the red-brick to the favor 
of fashion. We have only to reflect in order to dis- 
cover that the domain of Nature and that of Art are 
totally distinct ; that in Nature there are certain per- 
vading hues which are the very last we would use for 
the habitations of man, and, moreover, that there are 
others associated with either what is absolutely rustic 
or positively disagreeable. Now, no person would 
dream of painting his domicile green or blue, or of 
instructing his architect to use green or blue bricks; 
for these are the colors of the verdure around, and of 



CHIAROSCURO AND COLOR. 69 

the sky above. Natural scenery and architecture 
would, so to speak, coalesce ; and the law of harmony 
by contrast, which should govern in such matters, 
would give place to the law of harmony by similarity. 
Ought we not, for the same reason, to avoid what 
is commonly called red brick ; that is, brick which 
in color is exactly similar to that of red sandstone; 
which would afford no contrast, as regards light and 
shade, with natural surroundings, and which, in 
addition to this, is dull and heavy ? I do not condemn 
the use of pinkish bricks, such as those in Bailey's 
Hotel, Gloucester Road, or in Mandeville Place, but of 
those in ordinary use, such as we find in New Oxford 
Street, Knightsbridge, Porchester Gate, and Cadogan 
Square. Pink is a tint, and so far from deprecating 
the use of tints, I advocate them. Light yellow, light 
grey, and such like, may be employed with advantage, 
as, indeed, they have been in Onslow Square. Marshall 
and Snelgrove's, Brandon's, and the new Turf Club. 

But then the entire surface must never be covered. 
Whether brick be used or a wash of tint, every 
building should be faced with white, or creamy-white, 
dressings. Most architects appear to perceive this — 
although there are innumerable mansions, like those in 
Upper Berkeley Street and in the Cromwell Road, which 
are provided with no dressings at all — yet, how little 
pains is taken to effectuate their intentions ! They 
usually provide stone dressings, which within a few 



70 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



months become, of course, as dark as the red brick 
itself. A combination of these two objectionable 
features is afforded in the newly-erected Hall of Lin- 
coln's Inn. Were that covered with a coat of paint, 
like the adjoining Court of the Lord Chancellor, or 
were the dressings alone thus treated and the surface 
tinted, it would be one of the handsomest edifices in 

Fig. 30. 




THE BUTTRESSED TRUNK OF THE COTTON TREE. 

the metropolis. As it stands, it is simply as depressing 
as its surroundings ; and that is saying a great deal. 

It has already been noted how, in Nature, an appear- 
ance of stability is ensured by appropriate outline ; let 
us now see whether this is not imparted likewise by an 
harmonious disposition of color. So careful is she not 
to irritate the eye by imparting a sense of insecurity, 



CHIAROSCURO AND COLOR. 



71 



that when the trunk of a tree is pithy, like the wild 
cotton, and yet has to sustain a considerable spread of 
foliage (Fig. 30), it is buttressed up. She might 
have made the mountains square ; they might have 
overhung the valleys. But this is not the way 
she works. Affording artistic repose to the eye, she 

Fig. 31. 




CHIAROSCURO IN NATURE. 



has chosen to give them a pyramidal form. It would 
be too much to say that there is any regular chromatic 
gradation according to altitude, weight, and durability. 
Yet we know that the mountains are capped with 
snow (Fig. 31) ; we know that the trunks of trees are 
darker than their foliage; we know that the darkest 
substances are usually the heaviest, and we know, or 



72 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



have the means of knowing, that, as a rule, color is an 
indication of strength and ponderosity. The weight of 
the ancient sarcophagi of black Ethiopian marble, 
handed down to us from the time of the Pharaohs, is 
enormous, and the hieroglyphs incised thereon are as 
fresh as if they were the work of yesterday. And 
even if we look to the clouds, we shall find that those 
of the greatest altitude are entirely white. Surely this 
harmonious disposition ought to be maintained in 
the works of man. In so far as we no longer erect 
tenements whose upper stories overlap the lower, we 
comply with the principle of linear gradation. Our 
most beautiful lighthouse was designed in conformity 
with the trunk of a tree. But what advance have we 
made in chiaroscuro ? One would suppose that uni- 
formity of tone, as well as uniformity of design, would 
characterize every edifice of the nineteenth century, 
and that where gradation was desirable, the harmony 
of Nature would be preserved. What, however, do we 
find ? The Albert Memorial is a very fair illustration 
of the progress made in Art decoration. At all events 
it is a national monument, erected at a great cost, and 
held in such precious estimation that it has even been 
proposed to enclose it within a glass covering. White, 
which, if used anywhere, should have been introduced 
near the summit, is introduced at the very base of the 
fabric ! There are few who do not feel that, with all 
its gaud and tinsel, this national trophy is a failure ; and 



CHIAROSCURO AND COLOR. 73 

the reasons are not difficult to discover. Something 
might here be said, also, about the use of gold upon 
this trophy; but this will be properly reserved for the 
chapter on Decoration. Perhaps no people ever mani- 
fested a truer appreciation of natural harmony than 
those of the Saracenic race. The Taj Mahul is of pure 
white marble. No gradation was necessary •, none was 
attempted. The Jumna Musjid at Lahore is an almost 
equally charming edifice; red and white are both 
introduced; but in the order of Nature. The main 
edifice is red ; the dome is white. Other instances 
might be mentioned ; but these are sufficient to show 
that our own progress in aesthetics has not been com- 
mensurate with our opportunities. 

White may be an emblem of purity ; it may be 
associated with monuments perpetuating the memories 
of the dead ; it may even, as M. Blanc puts it, " irradiate 
all that comes within its range " ; nevertheless, it 
should never be used in masses, but in dressings only, 
and other embellishment. That is why I have hereto- 
fore spoken of using for surfaces a creamy tint. This, 
in combination with white, is not only more beautiful 
than white by itself, but it is not so detrimental to 
contiguous colors. Were the figure on the summit of 
the Paris Opera House in white, tipped with gold, 
instead of being dark as it is, the effect would be much 
more pleasing. A mass of white simply dazzles, and, 
introduced even in small quantities, is detrimental, 



74 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



unless in conformity with the last - mentioned rule. 
For instance, in the G-rosvenor Gallery we may have 
observed plaster-casts disposed round the centre of 
some saloon, and interspersed, as it were, with other 
works of Art. Are they not simply ruination to the 
effect of the pictures ? I mention this institution, be- 
cause it is supposed to be arranged with the express 

Fig. 32. 





mmm : m^:..$mi 


jff^y'~ggfflB^j53B j^^Xj^ft^l^Pifc^S^ 


! lmmmm:HWm£?ml 





BOTANICAL TABLET. 



object of initiating us into the mystery of artistic 
disposition. Similar mistakes we find elsewhere ; the 
charm of some of the most lovely scenery in England — 
that of the far-famed Studeley Park, for example — 
being completely marred by the interspersion of glaring 
plaster-casts. Statuary ought never to be set up out of 
doors at all, excepting among terraces and fountains 



CHIAEOSCURO AND COLOE. 



75 



in the Italian style ; and, when introduced within- 
doors, should be restricted to vestibules, staircases, and 
corridors, and even then placed, if possible, against 
dark or tinted grounds. Nor should white tablets be 
permitted to distract the eye, either in public gardens 
(Fig. 32), or upon metropolitan vehicles. 

In accordance with the above principles, we might, 
for shop fronts, have black, or otherwise very dark, 

Fig. 3?. 



^v*Avw\\\\\\w\\\A\\imwuimm^^^ 



^o^^^^^^^^^\^-^-9.^^i *> jgEf 




THE ARRANGEMENT OF SHOP WINDOWS. 



intervening columns ; since these would both impart 
stability, and by contrast exhibit to the best advantage 
the goods displayed in the windows. Provided always 
that a brass or gilt beading, or something similar, be 
run round the columns to give a finish, to connect 
them together, and to confer an appearance of greater 
width than would be suggested by leaving them plain 
(Fig. 33). 



76 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

And now, having shown why white, although an 
emblem of purity, is to be avoided, let us turn to those 
colors which are to be dispensed with as being 
associated with what is disagreeable. Mud is disagree- 
able — there can be no question about that — yet in the 
fashionable locality of South Kensington, terrace after 
terrace of " noble and commodious mansions " is be- 
grimed with mud-colored stucco. Eust is disagree- 
able ; yet the balconies and railings of every house 
from 44 to 55, Queen's Gate are carefully painted to 
resemble rust. Duck-weed will be held by most people 
to be unpleasant; nevertheless, the church of the 
Primitive Methodists near the Royal Oak Station is 
adorned with alternate layers of black and duck-weed 
green. So long as human beings are influenced by 
association, so long as they continue to turn with 
aversion from the steeple in Langham Place because of 
its striking resemblance to an extinguisher, builders 
will do well to discard such incongruities, and direct 
their abilities to something more enlivening. 

Let us, in illustration, take the Albert Hall, and see 
whether, by the application of the foregoing principles, 
it is not possible to transform the appearance of most 
of our edifices without structural alteration. The late 
Sir Charles Barry accomplished a deal in this way by 
such enrichments as might be described under the head 
of form alone. The element of color was altogether 
excluded from the insipid classicism of his day. It 



CHIAEOSCUEO AND COLOE. 77 

now plays an important part in exterior embellish- 
ment, but affords, because it is not applied with dis- 
crimination, only additional material for rectification 
by the canons of artistic construction. In so far as the 
building is a vast rotunda, and answers the purpose 
for which it was designed, no fault can be found. But 
suppose, instead of being of dingy red as it is, it 
were painted creamy-white ; suppose the dressings, in 
lieu of being a dampy-yellow, were of pure white ; 
suppose all interstices were filled in with deep red ; 
that the cornices, which at present are miserably 
meagre, were enlarged by several feet; that some 
allegorical group were placed over the facade, and 
even a flag hoisted over the cupola (since it would not 
be strong enough for a statue) ; that the History of 
Man were expunged, and in lieu thereof reliefs of 
geometric design were substituted ; and, withal, suppose 
the frieze, instead of being yellow, were filled in with 
the same red as the interstices, would not this stately 
edifice be infinitely more ornamental than it is now ? 

An objection is commonly made against what pro- 
fessional gentlemen are pleased to designate the " un- 
reality " of paint ; and it is insinuated that the resort 
to its use is reprehensible as a deception. It is difficult 
to perceive the force of such insinuation. We all know 
that stone is a time-honored material ; that it is con- 
nected in the mind with all that is great and noble in 
history. Nevertheless I emphatically repeat, that, so 



78 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

long as people are permitted to emit into the atmo- 
sphere volumes of soot, so long even as it blackens 
through the action of a rigorous climate, stone possesses 
no real superiority over brick-and-mortar. If with 
paint an endeavor be made to imitate stone, not only 
by similitude in color, but by drawing lines to suggest 
the presence of successive blocks, this is reprehensible. 
Otherwise paint is just as much paint as stone is stone, 
and its employment is no more to be deprecated when 
it happens to assume the color of stone than when it 
resembles the color of wood. Where there is any 
apparent substitution of material ; where botanical pro- 
ducts are manufactured out of iron, for instance, as 
they are in the celebrated Pump-Eoom Hotel at Bath ; 
where " porphyry " is rendered in stucco, and metal 
made to look like cane or bamboo, there is " dissimula- 
tion." But where paint is used merely for the purpose 
of imparting at moderate cost an appearance of com- 
pleteness, finish, and cleanliness, it cannot be regarded 
in any other light than as a highly-effective auxiliary. 



DECORATION AND HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE. 79 



CHAPTER IV. 

DECORATTOX AXD HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE. 

Perhaps there is no nation upon the face of the earth 
amongst which there exists such genuine appreciation 
of what is substantial and good as the English. But, 
then, it is confined to the cultivated few. Be the cause 
what it may — whether it be ascribed to the love of 
natural forms inherent in a people so devoted to out- 
door recreation, whether it arises from a desire to 
countervail the gloom of our climate by perpetuating 
the reminiscences of "glorious summer," or whether it 
proceeds simply from an absence of artistic appreciation 
— there is, in the popular mind, a decided predilection 
for the representation of familiar objects, and an almost 
ineradicable tendency towards gaudiness in embellish- 
ment. There was a time when pattern partook of a 
geometric character, and colors upon the wall were 
sombre. Men and women dressed in the gayest attire, 
and stood out like figures in a picture against their 
mural backgrounds. But the spread of Puritanism 
and the development of the Louis Quatorze style of 
decoration appear, between them, to have overturned 
all this, and to have led to the introduction into archi- 



80 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



tectural interiors of all the glitter which once adorned 
the person. We have only to look in at the most noted 
restaurants recently erected — such places as the Crite- 
rion, St. James's Grill-Room, and Horse-Shoe — in order 
to ascertain the bent of the public taste, for these have 
been embellished with the especial view of satisfying 
a wide-spread demand. And if exception be taken to 
these, we need but refer to the Midland Hotel dining- 
saloon, and the South Kensington itself. 

Now, the first principle in decoration is that the 
mind must be soothed by a sensation of tranquillity. 
And in order to produce this, attention must be paid, 
not only to the character of ornation, but to broad 
lines of construction. We will then divide this chapter 
into three parts ; the first treating of structural lines, 
the second of form in ornamentation, the third of 
color. 

It is unnecessary to reiterate the arguments in 
favor of arcuations which were used when treating of 
the exterior. Suffice it merely to repeat that they will 
conduce far more to that feeling of repose which is 
so desirable if, like those on the outside, they be struck 
inwards instead of outwards. Those commonly used, 
especially in the open way between double drawing- 
rooms, are of the latter description ; and this is the 
kind recommended by Mr. Dresser. Curved lines are 
peculiarly appropriate in reception - rooms, wherein 
everything should wear an aspect of gaiety and anima- 



DECORATION AND HOUSEHOLD FUKNITUEE. 81 

tion. Hence, not only should we have windows 
with arched architraves, as already recommended, but 
arched, circular, or elliptical pier glasses, round otto- 
mans, and such like. In ceilings they are invaluable, 
imparting, as they do, not only beauty, but expanse. 
This is a matter to which very little attention seems 

Fig. 34. 




CONVENTIONALITY IN TIMBER-VAULTING. 



to be paid. In a fashionable church recently erected 
the timber -vaultings are of the above description 
(Fig. 34). It may be that the very acute angle was 
adopted for the purpose of suggesting elevation — " point- 
ing heavenwards and directing one's thoughts to God " 
— but it destroys that impression of amplitude which 
every artistic constructor should aim at. And, not 



82 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



satisfied with cramping the roof as much as possible 
by the shape of the ribs themselves, the architect has 
further narrowed it by the introduction of ornaments 
below the ribs, in imitation of Gothic cuspings. 

The utmost expanse which can be obtained in a 
ceiling ought to be obtained ; upon which point we 
cannot do better than consult the best edifices of the 
Middle Ages. And not only should the ceilings where 
FlG 35 practicable, be arched or 

curved at the sides, but 
lateral lines should har- 
monize therewith. In the 
booking-office of the new 
terminus of the Great 
Eastern line is a gallery 
supported upon triangular 
cantilevers, notwithstand- 
ing that the sides of the 
ceiling immediately above 
are curvilinear (a, Fig. 35). They ought either to 
have exactly corresponded, or the lines below should 
have partaken of the character of those above (b). An 
arched ceiling induces, moreover, a sense of security ; 
and that is partially imparted by curving the sides of a 
flat one. It is further imparted by emphasizing, as it 
were, the broad lines of construction. 

Both in architecture and in the manufacture of furni- 
ture, prominence should be given to structural lines, 





HABMONY IN DETAILS. 



DECORATION AND HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE. 83 

and no effort ought to be made to induce the supposi- 
tion that what is really the handiwork of man has 
come into existence at the bidding of the magician. 
We like to see how a thing is put together, and that it 
is substantial enough to answer its purpose. This is 
the principle upon which the best architects and cabinet 
makers of the Middle Ages worked; this is probably 
the origin of that beautiful rib-vaulting which, besides 
giving finish and elegance, seems to render ceilings 
additionally secure ; this is probably the origin of the 
long shaft, half imbedded in the wall, which seems to 
prop the ribs from the very ground ; and this is probably 
the origin of those innumerable minor devices which 
kindle such confidence in the permanency of their 
productions. A glance at a table like that in Fig. 36 
will suffice to show that it would withstand the 
wear and tear of generations. And this cannot be 
said of the flimsy, contorted things which supplanted 
them. 

Before the days of Louis Quatorze, ornamented con- 
struction, and not " constructed ornament," was the rule. 
There were fan- vaultings instead of plaster images ; 
there were geometrically-elaborated ceilings instead of 
painted ceilings ; there was inlaid work instead of 
depicted work ; brass instead of ormolu. Artificial 
graining was unknown ; the art of veneering undis- 
covered. Fire-irons were made for use as well as for 
display; there were no illuminated coal-scuttles; vul- 

(; 2 



84 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



garities in roccoco, maiolica, and Dresden china had not 
culminated in the introduction of papier-mache and 
lacquer work ; there was reality instead of sham, and 
an all-pervading desire to trust to honest workmanship 
rather than to extravagant and skilful deception. 
" The bolts, bars, and straps of these times," as Eastlake 
observes, " not only served a useful purpose, but were 
decorative features in themselves." The principle was 



Fig. 36. 




AN AUTISTIC AND SUBSTANTIAL TABLE. 



impressed upon every detail, even down to their goblets 
and books (see Figs. 50 and 55). 

What we are accustomed to regard as the floridity of 
the Louis Quatorze and Italian styles is more than 
floridity; for, to say nothing of a profusion of gold 
and bright coloring, statuary is frequently introduced 
into the ceiling in such a manner as to be utterly 
destructive of that sensation of security which it is so 



DECOEATION AND HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE. 85 



desirable to evoke. The figures in the Sistine Chapel, 
for example, as remarked also by the learned author of 
* Modern Architecture,' look as if they might at any 
moment fall upon the spectator. If we compare these 
styles with the exquisite fan- vaulting in Henry YII.'s 



Fg. 3 




KEEPERS LODGE, HYDE PARK. 



Chapel in Westminster Abbey, or in St. George's, 
Windsor, the superiority of the latter in fulfilling the 
conditions above noted will be obvious. 

Let us now pass to the second branch of our subject. 
Tliat eminently realistic character which distinguishes 



86 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



our monumental imagery pervades also the greater por- 
tion of minor ornamentation. There appears to be no 
medium between barren insipidity and ultra-grotesque- 
ness, and when any deviation from familiar styles is 
attempted, it results in an alteration without any im- 
provement. It may be that such things as the keepers' 
lodges in Hyde Park (Fig. 37) satisfied the taste of the 

Hanoverian epoch, but 
it is impossible to detect 
any superiority in the 
following designs of the 
present day, to be found 
in the Foreign Office 
(Fig. 38), the Midland 
Hotel (Fig. 39), and the 
Scarborough Grand re- 
spectively (Fig. 40). In 
fact, the inventive ge- 
nius appears, even in the 
most fanciful designs, to 
be conspicuous by its 
absence. It would be as difficult for the individual who 
conceived the monstrosity exhibited upon page 89 to 
define its connection with a Conserative club lamp-post, 
as for the gentleman who introduced the circular excres- 
cence under the arc of the ceiling in the Midland Hotel 
coffee-room (Fig. 39) to explain with what object he had 
done so. 





Fig. 


3£ 






iisni 


■«£■:? "j 


' Wf IP* 




1 1 

liii ' 
H j 

Ilfi I 

mi 
■ 


ka " ''^^L^^i^iil-^r^™^ 






77 

■ShIIIIIII 

v TOHilll 
> mflniHll 









AN OKNAMENT FKOM THE FOEEIGN OFFICE. 



DECOEATION AND HOUSEHOLD FUKNITURE. 87 



It is all very we'll to bedeck a barrenness of invention 
in the captivating garb of pretended symbolism, and it 
is flattering, no doubt, to be told that in any particular 
group or figure there is a dash of allegory which is 
imperceptible only to the uncultivated multitude; but 
the absurdity of supporting gas-lamps upon the wings 
of a Griffin is as patent as that of sustaining a bowl by 

Fig. 39. 




AN ORNAMENT IN THE MIDTAND HOTEL. 



the tail of a dolphin. In the most imaginative period of 
Mediaeval Art the best designers abstained from deline- 
ating phenomena lying without the bounds of proba- 
bility ; and there is no reason why we should not accept 
this as our own guiding principle, even in the most 
fantastic delineations. We may curtail the Roman 
galley " of fair proportion," as they did, or avail them- 
selves of any other truly artistic license ; nevertheless, 



88 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



the harmony of Nature should in so far be preserved 
that the galley must float upon the wetter. There is no 
figure so decorative as that of a seraph, or other em- 
blematic personification, provided with wings. Such a 
being has no earthly affinity ; it is the offspring 
purely of a beautiful, poetic conception. Yet there is 



Fig. 40. 




MODEEN ADDITION TO IONIC CAPITAL. 



nothing in its composition which militates against one's 
idea of congruity ; for the wings emanate from that 
part of the body into which Nature herself would have 
inserted them. It is within the bounds of possibility 
that such a being, granting its existence, should de- 
scend ; it is not within the bounds of possibility that 
any conceivable creature should sustain upon the tip 



DECOKATION AND HOUSEHOLD FUKNITUKE. 89 



Fig. 41. 



of its vampire wings a lamp-frame of ponderous cast 
iron (Fig. 41). ° 

The representations, however, which usually play 
so important a part in popular ornation are absolutely 
devoid of idealism. They are simply the fierce counte- 
nance of some feline animal, the paw of a dog, the 
chubby configuration of an infant, and such like. Nor 
does it seem to matter where these are portrayed, 
so long as they are supposed to recall to the mind 
the vitality of surrounding Creation. Interspersed 
about the common at Harrogate are public seats of 
the description shown in Fig. 42. 
The designer has evidently con- 
sidered that something which is 
usually found amongst grass would 
be highly appropriate for such a 
locality. Accordingly he has se- 
lected the serpent; copying one 
just as he found it, and barbing the 
tail in order to denote its venomous 
propensities ; completely oblivious 
of the circumstance of its affording 
no idea whatever of support. In the 
same way we find massive consoles 
propped up upon the heads of cher- 
ubim, and Nubians with out- 
stretched arms, holding up weighty girandoles where- 
with to illumine the path of the welcome visitor as 




A LAMP-POST St PPOBT. 



90 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

he approaches the foot of a staircase. It might be too 
much to say that one may knock for admittance with 
the head of a goat, wipe one's " feet " upon a New- 
foundland dog, approach the hostess over a carpet 
strewn with bouquets, converse with oue foot upon a 
Bengal tiger, and contemplate birds of paradise upon 
the walls ; that one may be called upon to interpose the 

Fig. 42. 




RUSTIC SEAT, HARROGATE. 

Bay of Naples between an elderly lady and the fire- 
place, to slice a pine-apple upon a humming-bird, and 
place one's finger-glass upon the countenance of a Tyro- 
lese peasant. Yet this as fairly describes the popular 
taste as when we say that the English people have a 
decided predilection for the imbibition of beer. Do 
we not everywhere find flowers upon floor-carpets, fruit 



DECOEATION AND HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE. 91 

upon dessert-plates, insects and birds upon the walls ? 
Are not the ladies of the family still called upon to 
embellish the door-panels with " subjects from life ? " 
(Loftie). Does not Mrs. Orrinsmith recommend 
" figures upon painted glass ? " x Do not the Misses 
Garrett advocate leaves and flowers " as suggestive 
of the sweet smell which household things ought to 
have " ? 2 Are we not told by the ' Spectator ' that 
" real decoration progresses until it culminates in a 
Tintoret or Michael Angelo for one's furnishing up- 
holsterer " ? 3 And has not Mr. Cross told the art 
students of the metropolitan schools that it is a 
proper thing to depict " a rose or a butterfly upon 
a chest of drawers " ? One of the celebrated Grillow's 
newest designs is a bordering of flowers, peacocks, and 
butterflies, drawn and colored after life ; and we need 
but look in at the chief establishments in order to 
ascertain what patterns predominate notwithstanding 
all our culture and all our opportunities for reducing 
taste to a science. To say nothing of the miles of 
shop-windows in inferior parts of London, there is in 
the most fashionable localities an exposition of design 
absolutely vulgar. Hindley has shown bouquets of 
flowers twenty-four inches across, and Hampton similar 
things three feet across. Sporting scenes are depicted 
upon wall-papering ; episodes in the Prince's Indian 
tour have been commemorated, and in the most noted 
1 P. 66. a P. 83. ■ P. 311. 



92 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

emporiums, not excepting that of Minton's agent in 
South Audley Street, as many animals as might have 
tenanted Noah's Ark are imitated in crockery, and 
displayed in the window to captivate the public eye. 
Another craze for "faithful representations" in the 
wrong place extends itself to the introduction of " zoo- 
logical and ornithological lamps," whereby is meant 
lamps and candelabra held in the hands of, or otherwise 
sustained by, actual stuffed specimens from the zoo- 
logical and ornithological world. 

Now, the first objection against this style of ornation 
is, that since bouquets would not naturally be found 
upon our walls, flowers would not naturally be trampled 
under foot, and peacocks would not naturally manifest 
themselves under a cornice, such things ought not 
to be represented there. Houses being erected for 
shelter, comfort, and repose, nothing within doors should 
suggest that one is out of doors. Human beings, in 
these latitudes at all events, do not spend their evenings 
under the glorious canopy of heaven, hold converse in 
an aviary, or retire for rest among buzzing insects and 
screeching birds of plumage. And the second objection 
is, that since one representation is insufficient to cover an 
entire wall, carpet, or frieze, a succession of repetitions 
is necessary, and the effect is distracting. 

These objections, in general, are practically ignored ; 
sometimes they are virtually acknowledged. How- 
soever uncognizant we may be of settled principles in 



DECOKATION AND HOUSEHOLD FURNITUKE. 93 

decoration, persons of refinement cannot but feel the 
absurdity and incongruity of the popular style, and 
efforts are accordingly made, in two directions, to 
obviate them. One is by re-introducing what is known 
as Mediaeval decoration, wherein natural objects are 
indicated rather than depicted; the other is by in- 
creasing the size of delineations and covering the 
whole surface with a lesser number. The latter has 
been devised, apparently, by Mr. Whistler — at least this 
is his style as rendered upon the walls of a well-known 
mansion at Prince's Grate. There we have life-sized pea- 
cocks ; two of which are in the flutter of mortal combat. 
The last-mentioned style we may pass over as too 
ridiculous for comment. But there is an insidious- 
ness in the arguments adopted in favor of the former 
which demands a few special observations. It is 
said that we should "typify" rather than represent; 
a proposition from which few will be inclined to 
dissent. The difficulty, however, begins when we 
come to enquire what is meant by typification. Of 
the two methods in vogue for its effectuation, one may 
be designated the sentimental, the other the scien- 
tific. Of the former character is that which consists 
in preserving the natural outline, while the coloring, 
instead of closely resembling that of Nature, is merely 
suggestive; of which description are those patterns 
which have made the name of Morris celebrated, and 
those which are recommended by the lady writers in 



94 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

the 'Art at Home' series. Birds, insects, fruit, and 
flowers, may all appear upon the wall, provided they 
are not "faithful representations." There may be 
stalks and tendrils intertwined among trellis-work, and 
plants of various kinds "harmoniously intermingled ;" 
the " lusciousness of the vine " may be suggested, 
and "the entire growth and sweetness of the rose 
plant ; " the " clustering blossoms of the hawthorn " 
may be distinguished from the jasmine, and " dull red 
flowers" painted upon "a light green distemper." 1 
The scientific method is that advocated by Mr. 
Dresser. He also would typify ; but since real 
flowers, &c, if growing upon a level with the eye 
— as he argues — would be seen sideways, therefore 
typifications should present upon the wall a " bilateral " 
appearance ; and whereas, when seen from above, they 
would spread to the eye, therefore typifications thereof 
should assume upon a floor or carpet what he terms " a 
radiating character." 2 

The first is unquestionably superior to the popular 
style already dilated upon. Yet, if the theory upon 
which it is founded be at all comprehensible, it is 
difficult to say why the conventional Newfoundland 
dog should not be delineated upon the hearth-rug in 
the same manner as birds and butterflies are delineated 
upon the wall ; all that is requisite being that " dead 

1 ' The Drawing-room,' p. 12-19. 

2 *■ Principles of Decorative Art,' chap. v. 



DECOKATION AND HOUSEHOLD FUENITUEE. 95 

tint "or " flatted color " should be substituted for tlie 
varied hues of Nature. The second style is insipid, 
meagre, and far too Coptical. 

My own opinion is, that birds, butterflies, and other 
insects, should be excluded altogether ; that the jas- 
mine should be undistinguishable from the hawthorn, 
and that the decorator should aim at suggesting, not 
the " sweet scent " of flowers, or the " entire growth of 
the rose plant," but simply the richness and bloom of 
Nature. These qualities will be best attained by ad- 
hering, either to strictly geometric decoration, or to 
those patterns which partake of a geometrical character. 
For it must not be forgotten that such things as " dull 
red flowers on green distemper grounds " are very con- 
fusing to the eye ; and this alone would render them 
objectionable. 

It seems to be theoretically admitted that wall- 
papering should serve as a background against which 
human inmates and a great part of the furniture 
should stand out like figures in a picture ; because for 
what other reason are " dead tints " and " flatted colors " 
adopted ? Yet the theory is belied by the introduction 
of distracting contrasts, both in form and color. Most 
people are now familiar with the Saracenic style, as 
exemplified in the Alhambra at Grenada, a model of 
which may be seen in the architectural department of 
the South Kensington. The patterns are geometric, 
and the coloring rich in the extreme — pure red, pure 



96 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

blue, and pure gold exclusively being used. Yet all is 
so interwoven, and the colors are so interblended, that 
the spectator is in no way distracted ; the whole sur- 
face falls away from the eye, and notwithstanding the 
brilliancy of each component hue, the countenance 
stands out against it as effectually as it does against a 
surface of the deadest tint obtainable. 

It is a mistake to imagine that brilliancy necessarily 
leads to gaudiness. There are far richer colors in some 
of the old stained-glass windows, in Turkey carpets, 
and even in Cashmere shawls, than there are in ordi- 
nary British decoration ; in the Criterion, for example, 
or in St. James's Hall. The charm lies in the inter- 
blending of colors by their introduction in compara- 
tively infinitesimal quantities, and in the avoidance of all 
that is patchy. And the effect of this style of decoration, 
while being equivalent to tint in conducing to repose, 
is to impart the richness of Nature without reminding 
us of organic Creation. In producing this effect we 
need not confine ourselves to designs which are strictly 
geometric, but adopt also such as are quasi-geometric ; 
selecting those which are of a " radiating " character in 
preference to patterns of a " bilateral " character, with- 
out regard to any such theory as that propounded by 
Mr. Dresser, and simply because the former are more 
decorative than the latter. What I would imply by the 
term " quasi-geometric " is a combination of pattern, 
suggestive, it may be, of natural form, yet so amalga- 



DECORATION AND HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE. 97 



mated as to present to the eye one mass of bloom or 
resplendency ; so unlike anything natural as to defy 
all attempt at distinguish ment; so purely artificial as 
to fall within the category of legitimate design, and 
detached from surroundings by enclosure within well 
demarcated borders (see Fig. 48). 

The imitation, and so called typification, of natural 
and familiar forms in a great measure results, of 
course, from the comparative facility with which repre- 
sentations are made ; for it is always easier to copy 
than to invent. Nevertheless, false reasoning also 
plays an important part. The accompanying sketch 
(Fig. 43) represents no less than six different rail-heads 

Fig. 43. 





4 m * 

RAIL-HEADS IN PICCADILLY 




between 92 and 111, Piccadilly. Obviously, they are all 
taken from spears, arrows, halberds, and other weapons, 
afl suggestive of defence ; and the intervening urn, &c, 
are there to indicate the consequent fruits of security. 
They are no more effective than railings of geometric 



98 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



Fig. 44. 



design (Fig. 44) ; but the fascination lies in their sup- 
posed symbolism. In the same manner the Newfound- 
land dog is introduced upon the hearth-rug, and the 
cave canem into the mosaic of the vestibule, in order to 

denote a vigilance exercised 
against unwarrantable intru- 
sion. These things are con- 
sidered appropriate. It is 
probably expected that the 
watchful eyes of the canine 
guardian will awaken a feeling 
of becoming circumspection, 
just as vertical lines will kindle 
a sense of devotion, or roses 
upon the wall recall to the 
imagination the sweet and re- 
freshing perfumes of Nature. 
And thus we find that vases 
intended to hold bouquets will 
have flowers painted all round 
them, and dessert-services will be exquisitely embel- 
lished with apricots, peaches, and other luscious pro- 
ducts. Pheasant-pie will be denoted by an effigy of a 
pheasant ; the handle of a butter-pot will be furnished 
with a Liliputian cow, and boiled eggs will be indicated 
by a sitting hen. This affected appropriateness is as 
ridiculous as the mock symbolism hereinbefore depre- 
cated, when commenting upon the embellishment of 




BAILS OF GEOMETRIC DESIGN. 



DECORATION AND HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE. 99 



Fig. 45. 



the British Museum gates. It is impossible to guard 
against intrusion by any number of cave canems ; it is 
unnecessary to denote the purpose for which a vase is 
to be used ; and an effort to recall the perfumes of 
Nature is made at the sacrifice of all that is gratifying 
to the vision. 

Other designs, again, are adopted without reference 
to appropriateness, but simply because they represent 
what is intrinsically beautiful. 
Of this description are such things 
as the accompanying (Fig.45). Of 
course it will be said that fictile 
abominations of a type so vulgar 
are not found in " good houses." 
Still, it is impossible to distin- 
guish between ornaments of this 
kind and those which are ex- 
posed for sale in most of the 
shops in London. Goode, of South 
Audley Street — the agent for 
Minton — besides such things as 
peacocks, pugs, fallow-deer, bears, 
storks, and cockatoos, modeled and colored to Nature, has 
a life-sized swan in crockery, provided with an aperture 
in its back for the retention of such horticulture pro- 
ducts as one may choose to put into it. It would puzzle 
one to discover in this any appreciable superiority 
over an ordinary fish-vase, or Bergmaster beer-pot. 




THE FISH VASE. 



ii 2 



100 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

Finally, innumerable designs are adopted in com- 
memoration of remarkable personages or incidents, and 
to satisfy a craving for mere innovation. I have beheld 
the Shah of Persia worked into a counterpane ; and it 
is not an uncommon thing to find Her Majesty doing 
duty as an anti-macassar. 

The accompanying sketch is from one of Mappin and 
Webb's "latest novelties" (Fig. 46). It manifests 

Fig. 46. 




THE LION VASE. 



about as much capacity for artistic conception as that 
exhibited by the ancient people of Palestine when they 
portrayed "in vermilion" upon their walls "images of 
desirable young men." 1 There is no objection against 
the lion itself; but to the circumstance of the calyx 

1 Ezekiel, xxiii. 



DECOEATION AND HOUSEHOLD FUKNITUKE. 101 

being screwed into its head. The accompanying 

drawing shows how figures may with propriety be 

introduced (Fig. 47). The stem of the bowl is not 

:ained by the infants ; but merely kept in its posi- 

Fig. 47. 




FIGURES PnOPEBLT EN'TRODUCED. 



- by them. It is supported upon a stem resting upon 

Xow a few words in reference to color, and then we 

U revert to the subject of general ornation. It may 

be asked why I advocate its use in the interior, when I 

would all but exclude it from the exterior. The answer 

ia two-fold. Firstly, because the tint of the exterior 



102 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

should contrast with natural surroundings, which 
reasoning does not apply to the interior ; and secondly, 
because backgrounds, which would be unnecessary out 
of doors, are requisite within doors. So that one 
arrangement is, as it were, the converse of the other. 
The only question then is, as to its distribution. 

In Nature we find that, with the exception of green 
and blue, what may be termed positive and decided 
colors are never introduced in masses, but are reserved 
for flowers, for the plumage of birds, for insects, 
precious stones, and such like. Following the dis- 
position thus indicated, we ought to confine ourselves 
to such hues as are unobtrusive, and embellish with 
those which are richer. For example, there may be a 
cream-tinted wall set off with crimson, or an amber 
wall enriched with blue ; these colors not only appear- 
ing also in the window-curtains, and other drapery of 
the room, but running along in bands under the 
cornice, over the dado, and in the corners; — thereby 
emphasizing structural lines. What tints are suitable 
and what unsuitable is a matter with which we need 
not here concern ourselves. There are rules applic- 
able to the subject, but these will be more conveniently 
treated of when we come to speak of Dress; and for 
all practical purposes the most becoming may be 
selected after first trying them against the complexion. 
Where pictures are to be hung, no color is so 
appropriate as green — the background suggested by 



DECOEATION AND HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE. 103 

Nature herself. It is well known that there is a 
predilection among artists in favor of chocolate; yet, 
since in most pictures reds and rich browns predominate, 
these are more effectively set off by contrast than by 
similarity. As an argument in favor of this view, I 
may instance the galleries of the South Kensington as 
compared with those of Burlington House. In the 
Grosvenor we find deep crimson ; which not only 
impairs the richness of cognate hues, but, being glossy, 
distracts the eye instead of affording that subdued effect 
which is so essential. For surfaces, two or three shades 
of the same color are far preferable to such contrasts as 
" dull red " erratically introduced upon " pale green." 

I would strongly recommend that all patterns should 
be raised ; and that whether they be purely geometric, 
or indicate, in "the tangled maze," the contour of 
leaves and flowers, every constituent object should 
be defined by distinct lines, either of deeper tint or of 
gold. Embossed designs — a very good substitute for 
which is flock-papering — are much more effective than 
patterns printed upon flat surfaces, and conduce more 
readily to the attainment of that transparency which is 
all but indispensable if we would present to the mind 
the richness and bloom of Nature. 

Now, this leads us to consider the distinction between 
what are technically known as Pictorial and Decora- 
tive Art. Some maintain that there is no difference 
between the two, and that all Art is decorative. The 



104 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

latter part of this proposition is true. Nevertheless, 
there is, in reality, an essential distinction ; and it is to 
the non-observance thereof that we may trace most of 
the vulgar errors of the day. If a landscape with 
distant mountains, sky, &c, be depicted upon a wall, 
shall that be termed a picture ? If it be a picture, 
where does it end, and the wall begin ? Let us take 
but two examples, and the reader will perceive that 
the less the two arts are confused, the more truly 
artistic will be the entire result. One whole side in 
the interior of Lincoln's Inn Hall is covered with a 
fresco representing the School of Legislation. To 
begin with, the point of sight in the perspective of this 
allegorical production is several yards above the level 
of the eye, which is in itself a monstrous defect. 
But putting this aside, let us ask ourselves whether, if 
the pavement in the foreground be intended to re- 
present to the imagination real pavement, the temples 
in the middle distance real temples, and whether if it 
be otherwise intended to carry the eye back by succes- 
sive stages, the wall upon that side of the interior is 
not virtually obliterated ? For, if what we look upon 
be a vista gradually receding, how can a solid thing 
which cannot recede co-exist ? On the other hand, if 
what we look upon be a wall, then there can be no 
recession, and the grave legislators are simply sprawling 
about upon a surface of brick and mortar. The second 
example is in the conventional humming-bird por- 



DECORATION AND HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE. 105 

trayed upon a dessert-plate. As far as possible it is 
drawn and colored to life, and represented as winging 
its flight through the atmosphere. Of course, were 
there any hesitation as to whether one's pine-apple was 
to be placed upon the bird or in the atmosphere, it 
would immediately be said that the whole thing is only 
a " picture." Yet, if it be a picture, it has no boundary. 
How is one to distinguish between the plate and the 
atmosphere ? Moreover, why, let it be asked, should 
one be invited to slice one's dessert upon a picture at 
all? Is it not as ridiculous to do this as to recline 
against a portrait of the Queen, or cover one's-self 
with the Shah of Persia ? There can be, in the true 
sense of the term, no picture without a frame — a real, 
raised frame, not a mock imitated one — something to 
keep it totally distinct from its surroundings ; for that 
within the frame and that without represent two sur- 
faces, one appearing to stand where it actually stands, 
the other receding from the eye. 

Depend upon it, the wider the bridge which separates 
the art of the painter from that of the decorator, the 
more they will mutually benefit each other. We may 
at once perceive this in the instance of a jardiniere 
embellished in the ordinary way with depicted flowers. 
Not only do these, howsoever w T ell executed, suffer by 
the presence of real flowers, but the brilliancy of the 
latter is necessarily impaired by the proximity of 
painted ones; since these, if they do nothing else, 



106 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

divert attention from the principal objects. A bouquet 
will look much better surrounded by a pattern of 
geometric, or quasi-geometric, design, tricked out with 
deep neutral tint, than with any amount of pictorial 
embellishment ; because, both in design and color, there 
is a contrast. So, likewise, will a properly framed, 
genuine picture. 

If the Italian style is not more frequently adopted, I 
feel pretty sure it is simply on account of a difficulty 
in procuring fresco-painters at moderate cost, for even 
as it is, Eenaissance arabesques appear upon the walls 
when there is not the slightest occasion for them. A 
Eenaissance arabesque is somewhat akin to bad music. 
As in the latter no one can guess from one note what 
the following will be, since there is no natural sequence, 
so in this "arabesque" it is impossible to divine the 
character of one delineation from that of another. It 
may be a Griffin ; it may be a Mermaid ; it may be a 
scroll ; perchance it is a garland of evergreens ; it is 
not unlikely to evolve into a bow of yellow ribbon ; 
the only certainty connected therewith is that every 
principle of harmony will be set at defiance. Pictorial 
vulgarity culminates in the Italian style. There are 
mock colonnades intended to look like real colonnades ; 
glimpses of landscape executed with such scenic effect 
as to deceive the eye ; and, not only the vaulted canopy 
of heaven overhead, but angelic beings therein, clouds 
at various altitudes, and balconies running round 



DECORATION AND HOUSEHOLD FUEXITUEE. 107 

ostensible apertures in the ceiling in order to delude 
the mind into the belief that there is no such thing as 
artificial roofing. Some of the rooms in a well-known 
Club in Piccadilly, and most of those in Kensington 
House, are decorated in this manner ; and, in the 
Grand Hotel at Brighton, the walls of the staircase are 
embellished with groups of musical instruments bound 
together with ribbon. One side of the Westminster 
Aquarium smoking-saloon is besmeared with a fresco 
intended for a vista of natural scenery, and the orches- 
tra of the Crystal Palace is furnished with an open-air 
gallery, rendered with all the ingenuity of a sign- 
painter. Of course there are occasions when illusion 
is necessary, as in scenic representation ; but even 
from scenic representation may be adduced instances of 
its absurdity under other conditions. Upon the drop- 
scene of the Court Theatre is — or was a year ago — 
an entrance to a castle rising from the stage as if 
the stage were the ground. So far good ; and if the 
painter had chosen to depict any object beyond this 
line it would have been legitimately introduced. In 
advance of this line, however, is a halberdier on guard, 
apparently standing upon the stage. Now here illusion 
ia both impossible and unnecessary; therefore it is 
vulgar. 

In Italy it is not unusual to find, not only a vase of 
flowers painted upon a wall, but the niche wherein it is 
supposed to stand. The play of light and shadow is 



108 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

regulated by surroundings, and an obvious attempt is 
made to deceive. Perhaps this much may not be said 
of the infantile members of the celestial host who con- 
descend to sustain in the air the ponderous candelabrum, 
or of the dove in the ceiling, from whose tender breast 
depends the unethereal gas-pipe. Yet, as artistic devices, 
there is not much to choose between them. 

As might be expected, there are many who, per- 
ceiving the absurdity of illustrating the glories of 
heaven, endeavor merely to indicate them. Accord- 
ingly we find, in the Foreign Office, a star-bespangled 
corridor, and, in the Grosvenor Gallery, the moon in 
successive phases careering through the firmament. 
But it has already been pointed out that any device 
within doors which suggests that one is out of doors is 
in " bad taste." The azure hue is in itself, no doubt, 
extremely beautiful, and inasmuch as it recedes from 
the eye, may be effective in imparting apparent alti- 
tude ; yet, even this should be introduced with discri- 
mination ; for it must not be forgotten that, whereas 
the most agreeable natural light emanates from above, 
so should artificial light be reflected, in a great measure, 
from the ceiling, and that deep tints thereon counter- 
vail the efficacy of this disposition. This is one reason 
why paintings are objectionable, excepting in very lofty 
saloons wherein light is admitted through apertures 
above the ordinary windows. Another reason, how- 
ever — and perhaps a more cogent one — is that they are 



DECORATION AXD HOUSEHOLD FUENITUEE. 109 

absolutely thrown away. They may be pictures in the 
true sense of the term ; they may riot to all appearance 
expunge the ceiling, but be obviously painted thereon 
and surrounded by evident frames ; yet one cannot 
help feeling that if they are genuine works of Art they 
ought to be placed upon a level with the eye, and that 
if they are not genuine works of Art they ought not 
to be introduced at all. 

Excluding, then, such pictorial representations as are 
not in the true sense of the term pictures, and confining 
garlands and bouquets — rendered merely in white, or 
dead-tint, — to window-curtains and other things which 
are never trodden, sat upon, or reclined against, the 
decorator will do well to confine himself to mere indi- 
cations ; to avoid everything which may arrest the 
attention and distract the eye, and endeavor to suffuse 
B8 much resplendency as may be compatible with per- 
fect repose. Not only was the best Mediaeval embel- 
lishment regulated upon such principles, but these are 
virtually expounded in those specimens of Oriental Arl 
which we consider so worthy of admiration. It would 
be too much to say that the Caucasians of the East 
proceeded upon any scientifically established system ; 
but they intuitively apprehended the elements of beauty, 
and the result is identical. What we call an "arabesque" 
— a heterogeneous intermixture of animals, Grill ins, 
fruit, and flowers — was not the arabesque of the 
Saracens. Theirs was strictly quasi -geometric : and. 



110 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

although in coloring they used most brilliant pigments, 
they rarely laid themselves open to the imputation of 
vulgarity. And the same characteristics which have 
been advocated above, distinguish the productions of 
China and Japan which are laid in such profusion 
before the shrine of Fashion, and seized upon with such 
eagerness by her worshippers. " Were a British de- 
signer," says Eastlake, " called upon to decorate a vase, 
he would probably depict thereon a ship in full sail 
firing a salute at the Port Admiral." The Chinaman 
would do nothing of the sort. As a draughtsman he 
is incomparably inferior to the European. He might 
cover his vase with one mass of human figures ; he 
might portray all the fowl of the air and the fish of the 
sea ; but the whole thing would be so badly done, the 
requirements of perspective would be so totally ignored, 
that one object would be jumbled up with another, and 
the effect, so far from being pictorial, would be purely 
and absolutely decorative. What the Chinaman may 
do when he is taught to draw better and conform with 
the rules of matured art, it is impossible to say ; probably 
his ceramic ornation will then be as inartistic as ours, 
for the effects of that floral embellishment which has 
long distinguished the productions of Manchester have 
already manifested themselves upon the embroideries 
of India ; but at present, although he cannot compete 
with the British artist, he is considerably in advance of 
the British decorator. And even the draughtsmen of 



DECORATION AND HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE. Ill 

the Celestial Empire did not, in the palmy days of their 
art, attempt the portrayal of natural forms; for the 
patterns upon the best old china, like that captured 
from the Pekin Palace, are purely geometric ; and 
when animal forms were resorted to — as indeed they 
ought to be in order to impart spirit and character to 
geometric embellishments — they were either typical or 
grotesque. And herein lies the secret of true ornamenta- 
tion. Even as Victory may appear upon the summit 
of a monument while the gallant hero of Trafalgar 
occupies a position at its base, so a dragon may officiate 
as the handle of a vase — provided the vase be so large 
as not to require lifting thereby — because a dragon 
bears no exact similitude with anything in Creation ; 
whereas a greyhound cannot be introduced for the same 
purpose. A Centaur may be burnt into a dessert-plate ; 
but such " original " designs as " a portrait of Martinez 
de Campos, Captain-General of Cuba, encircled by a 
wreath," from whatsoever laudable motive they may 
be adopted, are entirely out of place. 

In so far, then, as the devices of the Mediasval era 
conformed with these conditions, let there be a revival. 
Let the arms of the family be sculptured over the 
portal; the crest or monogram be painted where the 
judgment may dictate, and the region of fancy ransacked 
for subjects which may fascinate the imagination ; let 
the art of the painter and that of the decorator combine 
for the effectuation of all that is charming and attrac- 



112 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



tive ; but let there be no invasion by one into the 
province of the other. Indeed, so distinct should the 
two be kept, that the picture should, where practi- 
cable, be separated from surrounding decoration by a 
band similar in character to that running round the 

Fig. 48. 




PROPER PICTURE HANGING. 



four sides of the wall (Fig. 48). Yet so combined 
ought the two to be, that the picture should seem to 
belong to the wall ; forming, as it were, part and parcel 
thereof, a component portion of one harmonious whole. 
This is accomplishable, even when no bands run round 
the picture so as to receive it as a setting does a 



DECOEATION AND HOUSEHOLD FUKKTTUKE. 113 



Fig. 49. 



jewel, by raising the moulding of the frame from the 
wall to the picture, instead of perpetuating the cus- 
tomary method of detaching it by projecting the outer 
rim. Nor, if they are inclined downwards, should 
the inclination be perceptible ; 
for the usual arrangement (Fig. 
49), besides preventing unity, 
savors too forcibly of temporary 
suspension in an auctioneer's 
mart. 

The lines spoken of as de- 
marcating with precision every 
object delineated upon a wall 
constitute, or ought to consti- 
tute, a distinguishing feature in 
Decorative Art. They not only 
obviate the insipidity of flat 
surfaces, but impart to each 
portion of a pattern an ap- 
pearance of convexity which is 
eminently artistic. Our vases, 

by w T ay of illustration ; the majority of these are 
remarkable for a glossy tawdriness of overfinish 
which is never even attempted upon the best China. 
They are too smooth; the hues with which they are 
tinted are too delicate, and the subjects portrayed upon 
them far too elaborately manipulated. The mawkish- 




IMPROPER PICTURE HANGING. 



ness of over-elaboration maybe perceived in miniature 



114 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

upon ivory, in Danish jewelery, and in Italian inlaid 
work ; and as to delicacy of hue, it need here be said 
only — for the subject will be reverted to hereafter — that 
the tints usually introduced upon British vases are too 
killing for proximity with other colors. The colors used 
by the Chinese are subdued. Their greens are blue 
greens ; their blues deep blues ; their yellows dark ; 
their reds, not vermilion, but crimson. And withal, 
the surfaces of their vases are artistically uneven, their 
patterns are broken by lines which have given rise to 
the exquisite imitation known as cloisonne, and where 
no patterns are used the shell is often artificially 
crackled. The principle of this style of decoration 
should be carried through every detail, for the effect is 
much more pleasing even in strictly Pictorial Art. 
This is why our best artists paint upon ribby canvas, 
stand at a distance from their pictures when laying on 
their colors, and leave in the shadows traces of the 
raw-umber, or Tandy ke-br own, originally rubbed in to 
mass out the parts in shade. The rich transparency 
produced by this method forms a most exquisite 
feature in native Pictorial Art, and one, at all events, 
in which we are in advance of the Continentals. It 
may be rendered in decoration by filling in interstices 
with deep red or gold ; in window-painting by border- 
ings of crimson, and in attire by a lustrous, light- 
colored, or golden-threaded ground as a foundation in 
the material for darker pattern above. 



DECORATION AND HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE. 115 

In the South Kensington will be found a very fine 
specimen of Borghese mosaic. Excepting the central 
portion, whereon is a representation of the Forum, the 
whole consists of variegated stones arranged in grada- 
tion from dark to light. The stones themselves are 
of broken pattern, and the entire thing is far more 
decorative, and, it may be added, more intrinsically 
beautiful, than ordinary inlaid work of floral design. 

It is a singular indication of the popular preference 
for pictorial representation at all costs, that what may 
be termed natural decoration is persistently set aside in 
favor of artificial, howsoever inferior, howsoever inap- 
propriate, and howsoever unsuitable the material may 
be with which it is attempted. Two albums of identical 
design (Fig. 50) are exposed for sale in a noted shop- 
window. Both are of Algerine onyx, with gilt edgings ; 
but while one has, as a central ornament, a green mala- 
chite, the other is furnished with an inlaid wreath of 
flowers. The price of the latter is double that of the 
former ! The natural grain of wood is beautiful in the 
extreme. All it needs is a coat of French polish or 
common varnish ; yet it is generally smeared over 
with paint or artificial graining. It is only within 
the last few years that it has become fashionable to 
let the natural substance alone, and produce effects in 
furniture by a judicious combination of different kinds 
of wood. 

I have dwelt thus much upon the necessity of 

i 2 



116 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



separating Pictorial from Decorative Art, because we 
do not appear to have made up our minds as to whether 
the j shall not be considered as one and the same thing. 

Fig. 50. 




THE "MEDIEVAL ALBUM. 



And this view is fostered to a great extent by a class 
of painters lately sprung into existence, who appear to 
have embarked upon a crusade against everything 
savoring of realism, and to have determined upon 
manifesting that there is no such thing as a picture in 



DECORATION AND HOUSEHOLD FUENITUEE. 117 

the true sense of the term. This class, which includes 
within its ranks such names as Spencer Stanhope, 
Walter Crane, and G. F. "Watts, seem to have dis- 
covered that there is no poetry in Creation, and that 
nothing appeals to the refined imagination which is 
not embodied in distortion. The poetry of Shakespear, 
which never outraged the actuality of Nature ; the 
poetry of the mediaeval decorator, who seldom, even 
upon an escutcheon, indicated miraculous phenomena; 
the poetry of recognised artists, who seek to portray 
the beauties which surround in their most attractive 
combinations ; these are as nothing to those gentlemen 
whose sentiments find expression within the precincts 
of the Grosvenor Gallery. And as, in every domain, 
one more eccentric than the rest mav out-Herod Herod, 
so, upon this novel field of intellectual antagonism, we 
find an ultra " decorative artist " in the person of 
Mr. Whistler. It is not difficult to account for the birth 
of the new school. When the mind is thoroughly 
wearied with the contemplation of Beauty ; with be- 
holding color after color, and picture after picture ; it 
longs for reaction, and betakes itself to the inspection 
of something which is not a color, something which 
is not a picture, something with which the vision has 
not been satiated. This reaction is not peculiar to 
painting. It exhibits itself in animal pleasure, in 
literature, and in music. For in what other way can 
we account for the present abandonment of melody as 



118 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

gratifying only to trie vulgar, and the fashionable 
predilection for intonations which address themselves 
to the intellect instead of to the heart ? One has only 
to peruse the brochure which Mr. Whistler published 
against Mr. Ruskin, in order to perceive the bent of 
his abnormal temperament. There is but little in the 
whole seventeen pages of this pamphlet which is com- 
prehensible to ordinary intelligence. Weird visages, 
attenuated limbs, pallid and expressionless countenances 
pilloried against flat backgrounds, dishevelled hair 
flowing about when there is no wind to agitate it, 
Arrangements in Brown, Harmonies in Amber and 
Black, and what 'The World' wittily denominates 
Fantasias in Soot — if these be indicative of High Art, 
the sooner we content ourselves with a lower sphere 

JL 

of sublunary delectation the better. Without going so 
far as to coincide with our celebrated Art Critic in the 
views he expressed with regard to the " pots of paint 
flung in the face of the public," I cannot but protest 
against the claims of most of these productions to be 
considered either decorative or pictorial. A genuine 
artistic production is one which renders Nature both 
truly and poetically; it may be set among its sur- 
rounding even as a precious jewel in a crown, but we 
may take it as an axiom that the greater the divergence 
between the two arts the more they will reciprocally 
benefit one another. 

Harmonies in Blue and Gold might, unquestionably, 



DECORATION AND HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE. 119 

be rendered with charming effect ; but we must guard 
against those initiated by Mr. Whistler. In the 
mansion at Prince's Gate, the ground of the dado — 
which is a very high one — is gold ; from surbase 
upward is blue. Where peacocks are not portrayed, 
peacocks' eyes are indicated — in blue upon the gold 
ground, in gold upon the blue ground. Now, how- 
soever ornamental gold may be, it should never be used 
in masses. It has already been pointed out how Nature 
herself restricts such colors as are brilliant and decided. 
Gold is more brilliant than any color, and therefore 
above all others should be used but sparingly. Of 
course there is " authority " for the contrary view, and 
in this age of Eevivalism it is easy enough to point 
triumphantly to the interior of early churches, and to 
the grounds upon which ecclesiastical pictures were 
executed. But we should both decline to be guided by 
authority which is not based upon analogy with the 
order of Creation, and also recollect that gold was 
introduced in the middle ages chiefly from sentiments of 
devotion. True, we speak of " golden sunsets " ; but the 
color no more partakes of genuine gold than the " blue " 
of the ocean assimilates itself with pure ultramarine. 

The statue of the late Prince Consort in the Albert 
Memorial is entirely covered with gilding. The memory 
of the dead has hitherto been perpetuated in time- 
honoured marble, as being chaste and durable, as per- 
mitting of inspection, and as suggestive of that blissful 



120 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

tranquillity which it is fondly hoped might be the lot 
of the departed. But gold — associated in the mind with 
all the glitter and gaiety of life; the enricher of all 
enrichment ; gorgeous in the shade, dazzling in sun- 
light — to select such a material is both a startling and 
uncalled-for innovation, and a violation of the prin- 
ciples of chromatic disposition. In the South Ken- 
sington are full-length portraits, in mosaic, of Mulready 
and other celebrities, encircled by gold grounds. That 
such things should be found in an institution especially 
designed for the development of popular Taste, does not 
argue very forcibly in favor of any progress in the 
national apprehension of aesthetics. 

The only permissible exception to the non-gilding 
of entire objects would be when they are ornamentally 
introduced at the summit of an edifice. The Globe and 
Cross of St. Paul's are very properly garnished with 
a layer of gilding ; and so might any allegorical figure 
be if it surmount. But no object which does not 
surmount should be thus treated ; nor should the Prince 
Consort's, or any realistic figure, be overlaid. In fact, 
natural harmony and gradation must be maintained in 
the application of gold as in every other matter. To 
encircle a massive and sombre edifice like the British 
Museum with gilt railings is as absurd as it is to intro- 
duce those chain-posts of polished Aberdeen granite, 
popularly known as " the jam-pots," at the base of a 
time-worn cathedral like St. Paul's. It is out of place 



DECOEATION AND HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE. 121 

even in picture-frames where the whole surface is 
covered therewith, because it detracts from the bril- 
liancy of proximate colors. (Compare common method 
with Fig. 48.) 

Gold harmonizes with any color, even with white, 
and may be used with advantage in the enrichment of 
marble, or plaster-cast, statues. But it should never be 
brought into contiguity with surfaces which are dingy 
and unfinished. In the pediment of the British Museum 
it has been used to touch up reliefs absolutely murky 
with perennial soot ; and at Hyde Park Corner elabo- 
rately-gilded railings appear in proximity with huge 
columns of common rough-hewn stone. 

It is not within the scope of this treatise to point out 
in every particular the style of decoration and furniture 
suitable to each successive department of a domestic 
residence. It might be said that oak is best adapted 
to the dining-room, as everything therein should be 
substantial ; mahogany, walnut, or inlaid ebony, to the 
reception-room, because all therein should be rich and 
luxurious, and that the lighter kinds of upholstery are 
more appropriate to the bed-chambers, since the pre- 
vailing air of a dormitory should be one of thorough 
cleanliness ; yet there is no necessity to circumscribe 
the range of individual selection. There is such variety 
in the products of the " sylvan grove," the combination 
of different kinds of wood admits of such diversification, 
and the use or non-use of gilding so alters the character 



122 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

of household paraphernalia, that no hard-and-fast rule 
can be laid down. Nor is it necessary to descant upon 
the superiority of chased, pierced, damaskeened, repousse, 
or even granulated metal-work, over Dresden china 
and such bric-a-brac as one usually observes inter- 
spersed about private residences. There are, how- 
ever, certain vexed questions which appear to call for 
some definite solution by the tentative application of 
aesthetic principles. 

One is, whether there should be a dado or not. They 
were once common, but were superseded by plain walls 
during the Louis Quatorze period. There is no doubt 
that plain walls lightly papered or tinted, impart an 
idea of expanse which is by no means undesirable, and 
that the effect of dadoes is to cramp. At the same 
time, they ought to be revived for two reasons. The 
first is, being generally dark, they serve as a back- 
ground to the complexion, hair, and dress of the in- 
mates, and everything else in a room ; and the second 
is, that, in conjunction with carpet-borders (which I 
strongly recommend), they keep the furniture well 
to the wall, and group it together. The mistake 
usually committed is, the darkening of the wall as 
well as the dado. Theoretically, there may be no 
objection to this, for we know by experience that 
the darker the surroundings the more the com- 
plexion stands out against it. Yet, English rooms are 
generally so small, and the atmosphere of most of 



DECORATION AND HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE. 123 

our cities is so dense, that no measures for increasing 
apparent expanse, or for the diffusion of light, should 
be neglected. A compromise, then, which ensures the 
attainment of all these objects, is effected by retaining 
the dado and lightening the walls. Where pictures 
are to be hung, of course exceptions must be made ; 
although, if the method hereinbefore spoken of for 
treating them as part and parcel of mural decoration 
be adhered to, they are already set off by dark margins. 
Nevertheless, it may be observed in passing, that the 
pictures usually introduced into the household, espe- 
cially copies from old masters, are altogether unsuited 
for decorative purposes. There is much widespread 
misconception connected with the value of works of 
this description. If dingy copies of old masters be 
acquired for speculative purposes, that is one thing. 
But if they be suspended against the wall in order to 
render the family abode additionally attractive, the 
result, generally speaking, is the very reverse ; because 
whatever veneration we may entertain for antiquity, 
three-fourths of the efforts of Mediaeval Art, when 
regarded as specimens of drawing, composition, or 
chromatic arrangement, are not so inestimably superior 
to the performances of modern painters as to be worth 
the process of reproduction so unremittingly bestowed 
upon them; and the copies are generally semi-con- 
cealed by a film of obscurity — produced most frequently 
in the back premises of a dealer's shop, but euphemisti- 



124 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

cally entitled "the mellowness of age" — which renders 
them far less ornamental. 

Another point, is whether we should have light 
ceilings, or colored and elaborated ceilings ; and most 
people incline to an opinion in favor of the latter upon 
the ground that in Nature the sky overhead is blue; 
and the cerulean hue is further said to possess the 
property of receding from the eye, which is an advan- 
tage in imparting altitude. It must not be forgotten, 
however, that white also amplifies ; that it is just as 
often the hue overhead as blue is ; and that, in addition 
to this, it casts down a lustre from the very direction 
whence Nature herself diffuses it. 

The third is, as to the use of ground-glass, and lace 
or muslin window-curtains. The Misses Garrett are 
of opinion that ground-glass " darkens," l and in this 
view most of our builders seem to coincide, for they 
rarely introduce it except for the purpose of shrouding 
in mystery the unsightliness of back-premises. This 
is a decided misconception ; for every particle attracts 
and reflects a ray of light, and therefore it irradiates 
rather than obscures. Even French window-curtains 
will be found to produce the same effect, although, 
of course, in a lesser degree. It were well this should 
be borne in mind, for few who have crossed the 
Channel will have failed to observe that, notwith- 
standing the comparative gloominess of our climate, 

1 P. 38. 



DECOEATION AND HOUSEHOLD FUENITUEE. 125 

there is more glare in English houses than in those of 
our neighbors. / 

Again, there is considerable diversity of opinion as 
to the manner in which light should be admitted. We 
have been told that it should fall "from one side only" ; 
an idea evidently suggested by the beauty of " Eem- 
brandt effects." These effects are highly u artistic " no 
doubt ; but we must recollect that people are not 
perpetually posing for photographs, or sitting for 
pictures ; that they are rarely stationary, and con- 
tinually varying their attitudes. Under these circum- 
stances it is better to avoid the play of strong light 
and deep shadow. Windows upon more sides than 
one are preferable — provided, of course, the stream 
of light be properly tempered. 

The fifth relates to lineal concorclancy in details ; 
most persons, for example, regarding it as perfectly 
immaterial whether alphabetical characters exhibited 
upon a facade, painted over a shop- window, or printed 
upon a placard, are upright or slanting. Indifference- 
to this matter contributes, in a marked degree, to the 
general vulgarity of our notifications. The disuse of 
Old English (Ctt) no logical ^Department.), the invention 
of Italics (Mr. Burt begs to intimate.), the introduction 
of Script /"27c Me 'S/Sadoau SferiumJ , and the substitu- 
tion of " Arabic " numerals (3, 5, 9) for Roman 
numerals (v, x, cxix), inaugurated an evil day for 
British abecedary ornamentation. To such an extent, 



126 THE SCIENCE OP TASTE. 

should this principle of concordancy be carried, that 
I would recommend the exclusion, in ceramic embel- 
lishment, of every kind of picture which does not 
harmonize with the shape of the vase, that is, of 
landscapes wherein horizons are depicted, and marine 
pieces. Cupids and flowers are most suitable — painted, 
of course, upon plaques or medallions. 

Then there is a prejudice against the introduction of 
what has now come to be regarded as secular decora- 
tion into the interior of ecclesiastical edifices. Those 
who consider an innovation in this respect as a 
possible prelude to latitudinarianism in the doctrines of 
theology may look with apprehension upon any pro- 
posal in this direction. At the same time we must not 
overlook the fact of there existing between sentiment 
and color a deep sympathetic correspondency, and 
that the unfinished condition of most of our churches 
is calculated to damp the ardor of an enthusiasm 
which depends so very much upon impulse. Where 
anything of the kind is attempted, I would recommend 
grey, sage-green, or some other cool hue for the body, — 
set off, of course, with gilding, — and warm colors for 
the windows. The contrary of this arrangement as 
regards windows, we may frequently observe ; just as 
we may observe that a green light is shown upon the 
starboard side of a steamer, which ought to exhibit 
a red light, and a red light on the port side, which 
ought to exhibit green. 



DECORATION AND HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE. 127 

And finally, there exists a conflict of sentiment 
between those who look with favor upon a rational 
indulgence in the pleasures of life and those who 
would omit no opportunity for obtruding the inculca- 
tion of Christian austerity. To the latter class belong 
those who cannot treat their fellow-creatures with a 
gratuitous drink of water without proclaiming the 
loftiness of the motives by which they have been 
actuated ; those who have devised the delectable plan 
of embellishing encaustic tiles with mottoes from the 
Scripture, and, to all appearance, that uncompromising 
Revivalist, the author of ' A Plea for Art in the House,' 
who, at page 39, recommends, not only a cheerless grey 
papering for the drawing-room, but its adornment 
with such aphorisms from the book of Job as that 
"Man is born unto travail as the sparks fly 
upward," painted in diagonal lines, and in letters of 
black. It is almost superfluous to say that there is, as 
an old adage reminds us, a time and place for all 
things ; and no better illustration can be given of the 
influence of Taste in matters not immediately affecting 
the visual organs than in the observance or non- 
observance of this maxim in the ordinary routine of 
everyday life. Had this precept been acted upon at 
the Paris Exhibition, England would have abstained 
from wounding the susceptibilities of the French by 
the distribution of Protestant declamations at the very 
doors of the Trocadero I 



128 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



CHAPTER Y. 

COMMON SENSE. 

The reader will not have arrived thus far without 
perceiving that the tendency to regard Taste as a 
matter of sentiment rather than of judgment is the 
incubus which impedes its systematic development. 
One writer tells us that " salmon," which, as combining 
an admixture of yellow, must necessarily be warm, 
" is a cold, cheerless color," because he finds it so ; 
another insists upon backgrounds of yellow, because it 
is a " beautiful color." The Misses Garrett recom- 
mended floral designs as suggestive of " sweet smell " ; 
Mrs. Orrinsmith advocates patterns which " wisely 
combine the slender boughs of the willow with the 
amber branches and dark-green of the gadding-vine " ; 
and Mrs. Haweis calls upon young ladies to go about 
in Gainsborough hats, because, from a certain point 
of view, they present an agreeable contrast to the 
complexion. Nor is this sentimentalism confined to 
writers of the fair sex, for M. Blanc speaks of the 
hennin — which is in every respect similar to a fool's- 
cap — as imparting an air of "queen-like dignity"; and 
Mr. Dresser exults in botanical combinations which 



COMMON SENSE. 129 



embody, to the satisfaction of his own imagination, 
such qualities as Truth, Beauty, and Power. 1 In the 
name of Common Sense let us adopt reasoning more 
practical. What business have the boughs of the 
willow or the branches of an amber vine upon the 
inner walls of a domestic residence ? How is it pos- 
sible to " suggest " a perfume, howsoever delicious ; to 
discover in a long sugar-loaf hat, which in no way 
conforms with the configuration of the human head, 
an air of queen -like " dignity " ; or to detect in a 
Vitruvian scroll the least semblance to " a troop of 
maidens pursuing each other in the sacred dance ? " 

It really seems as if the object of most authors is to 
mystify rather than elucidate. Look at the " cosy 
little corner" depicted upon page 52 of Mrs. Orrin- 
smith's work on ' The Drawing-room.' " Evident 
and richly-colored boards suit the quaint beauty of 
the twisted Stewart chair ; " the cushions of this are 
" richly embroidered " ; there is a " Chinese table," a 
"Japanese scroll," an "Eastern carpet," a painting 
from Yokohama suspended against the wall, and a 
representation of a cockatoo upon the window-curtain. 
Can anyone make head or tail of this kind of gar- 
niture? That Mr. Kuskin's high-flown dissertations 
have produced a vast amount of good no one will deny. 
But take the more pretentious works recently trans- 
lated. One extract from 'Art in Ornament and Dress' 

1 Vide Frontispiece to ' Principle of Decorative Art.' 

K 



130 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

will suffice to show the character of this disquisition. 
"If symmetrical animals" says page 38, "are superior 
to radiating animals ; if symmetry corresponds to what 
is most elevated, grand, and noble — thought — we must 
acknowledge that radiation, by the very fact that it 
characterises the rudimentary works of creation an- 
terior to the appearance of man upon our planet, be- 
longs to epochs when the world presented nothing but 
spectacles of sublimity." Is this the way to advance 
the Science of Taste ? As to the volume just issued, 
entitled '^Esthetics' (by Eugene Veron), it appears 
to be devoted entirely to mystification ; and there are 
not wanting indications that the writer himself does not 
apprehend the signification of his subject, for he treats 
Taste as synonymous with what we have already pointed 
out is merely individual predilection. " What is it," he 
demands, " but the capability to feel aesthetic pleasure ? 
We may say that taste, as thus defined, is possessed 
by all men. Some like music, some like painting," 
and more to this effect. 1 It may be asked in return, 
What is meant by " the capability to feel aesthetic 
pleasure ? " For if it signifies the capacity for ex- 
periencing pleasurable sensations from the contempla- 
tion of Beauty only, then it is certainly not " possessed 
by all men." If it were, there would be no need for 
Eugene Yeron's book. Most men derive pleasure from 
the contemplation of what they are accustomed to ; and 

1 P. 65. 



COMMON SENSE. 131 



very few can distinguish the difference between that 
which happens to afford thern gratification, and that 
which is better calculated to do so. It in no way aids 
the comprehension of Taste to define it as that which 
derives " aesthetic pleasure;" for aesthetic pleasure 
itself must be defined. I myself would like it to mean 
that pleasure which arises from the contemplation of 
the Beautiful only. But the capacity for thus deriving 
pleasure is nothing more or less than Taste itself; so 
that, after expounding in a circle, we revert to the 
original expression. An English writer of the Eugene 
Veron school tells us that it "may be provisionally 
defined as the subjective concomitant of the normal 
amount of activity not directly connected with the 
life-preserving function in the peripheral end-organs of 
the cerebro-spinal nervous system." 1 This definition is 
certainly elaborate, and may be the outcome of very 
profound research. It affords, however, only an addi- 
tional sample of the style of writing already depre- 
cated. It is no more intelligible than the definition 
of Jurisprudence by Professor Amos, "which deals," 
says this learned gentleman, " with the facts brought 
to light through the operation of the fact of Law 
(considered as such, and as neither good nor bad) upon 
all other facts whatsoever, including among these other 
facts, the facts resulting in the creation, and expressing 
{he historical and logical vicissitudes of Law itself." 2 

1 'Physiological ^Esthetics,' by Grant Allen, p. 34. 2 'Jurisprudence,' p. L8. 

K 2 



132 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

Grandiloquent phraseology, metaphysical disquisi- 
tion, the enunciation of mere opinions, and the per- 
petual appeal to " authority ? ' — these are not the means 
by which the Science of Taste will be brought within 
the reach of popular comprehension. Depend upon it 
our best authority will be Common Sense, and that 
principles are the only guide we can trust to. What 
does it matter, for instance, whether Eastlake tells us 
that, in incised-work, the perforations should exhibit 
the pattern ? Does not intuitive percipience point out 
that every representation should be rendered in a 
tangible medium, and that vacuity is incapable of 
indicating the modulations of form ? We may not 
have flowers upon a carpet — why ? Because flowers 
ought not to be trampled upon. But we may have 
leaves ; for leaves are trampled upon. Not such leaves 
indeed as we find in the Folkestone Pavilion Hotel, or 
in Brandon's new show-rooms — immense, vegetating, 
tropical things, which, to all appearance, afford a 
resting-place for one foot upon the tip while the other 
presses upon the stalk — but small leaves, several of 
which are embraceable at the same time. 

Not many years ago it was fashionable to avoid 
correspondency upon both sides of a mantel-shelf, and 
so forth ; and to such an extent was this carried that 
people drove out with horses which did not match. 
Now, how are freaks of this character to be rectified 
but by appealing to the order observed upon the wings 



COMMON SENSE. 



133 



of a butterfly, whereupon we have embellishment of a 
most gorgeous description, yet perfect correspondency ? 
amount of learning will help us with an argu- 
ment. All we can do is to point to Nature and say 
that, since the Creator Himself understands what 
Beauty is far better than we do, the safest course is to 
be guided by Him. In the Opera House, Covent 

Fre. 51. 




i mwwuu 



►LOOTS, C0VE5T GARDES 



Garden, is, upon each side of the proscenium, a spiral 
column of the above description (Fig. 51). The 
circumvolutions in so far correspond that they take 
precisely the same direction ; still, they do not exactly 
correspond, otherwise they would both evolve from the 
same point in the middle of the stage (Kg " _ 
Anyone can see that the latter method is right and the 
former wrong ; yet we can deduce no argument ex- 



134 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



cepting from organic Creation. The sketch shown 
upon page 135 is from the church of St. Jude in 
South Kensington. The architect might tell us that 
the square, white block was very properly introduced, 
because it satisfies the eye by affording a broad basis of 
pressure against the brickwork beneath, which might 
divide were a wedge-shaped bracket alone inserted. If 
this be so, what was the object in cutting out a tri- 

Fig. 52. 




PROPER ARRANGEMENT OF COLUMNS. 



angular " corbel " ? The object manifestly was to im- 
part a finish ; for every projection should be provided 
with a support, and every support should gradually 
taper towards the wall. Is not the effect of this 
destroyed by permitting the rectangularity of the block 
to be visible ? 

No doubt, when we come to consider what Common 
Sense demands, we shall be compelled occasionally to 



COMMON SENSE. 



135 



descend to matters which are apparently very trivial. 
At the same time, when we reflect upon the influence 
which trifles exercise upon felicity, we shall not affect 
to discard them. It is a small matter, intrinsically, 
whether a man shows a shirt-collar or not ; but it makes 
every difference in his appearance. It seems a trifling 
matter whether the bifurcations of a door-strap curve 

Fig. 53. 




THE EFFECT OF CHIAROSCURO. 



inwards or outwards (Fig. 54); nevertheless, if there 
are two ways of doing a thing, there is no reason why 
the right one should not be insisted upon. To curve 
them outwards is to manifest the same non-appreciation 
of harmony as in the instance of the convex modillion, 
and to destroy, at the same time, the prehensile cha- 
racter of the strap. It is a matter of no vital conse- 
quence whether the handle of a dressing-room water-jug 



136 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



is to be placed at tfie top instead of at the side (Fig. 55). 
Yet there is no reason why it should not be ; or why, 
whenever it is occasionally placed at the top, it should 
be attached by what is made to resemble blue or pink 
ribbon. Whether a claret-jug is to be adorned with 
bas-reliefs illustrating the process of wine-pressing, or 
merely with grapes and vine leaves ; whether those 
of Mediaeval design (Fig. 56) are not preferable to 

Fig. 54. 




A MEDIEVAL DOOK-STEAP. 



"latest novelties" by Mappin and Webb — these are 
questions of apparent insignificance ; yet they are all, 
in their various ways, exponents of the principles we 
are contending for. There are many who may regard 
the shape of a chair, the form of a mattress, or the 
arrangement of a bed-chamber, with indifference ; yet 
these are everything to our comfort. Very few of the 
former afford proper support to the small of the back ; 



COMMON SENSE. 



137 



and most of them seem to be manufactured for the 
express purpose of rounding the shoulders. As to 
spring-mattresses, instead of being inclined downwards, 
they are usually made perfectly level ; so that the upper 
part of the bodv, being 

ier than the lower, 
sinks into a posture 
utterly subversive of 
tranquil repose. The 
two diagrams upon 
page 139 are intended 
to indicate what every 
upholsterer should aim 
at. The whole of the 
back may repose against 

a, and a slight in- 
clination in the seat 
prevents any tendency 
to slide forward. The 
back in Fig. b, being on 
a pivot, adjusts itself. 
Pig. 58 is introduced 

with the view of su or- 
es 

:ing the disposition of bedroom furniture, especially 
in hotels. To begin with, the lavatory arrange- 
ments are partitioned off, as in the stablish- 
ments abroad (c) ; and this is no small convenience, 
since the cabinet is provided with pegs, and every- 




A WATEB EWEB. 



138 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



thing unsightly is screened off. Then the bed is placed 
across the chamber, so that one's eyes are not dazzled 
by light from the windows (a). There are two win- 
dows instead of one, and the dressing-table is between 
them (b). The ordinary plan of having only one when 
there is ample space for more, and putting the mirror 
immediately in front of it, is most ridiculous ; for 

where light is admitted 

Fig. 56. . 

through a single aper- 
ture, the rays are neces- 
sarily concentrated ; and 
no countenance in the 
world appears to advan- 
tage with a stream of 
light full upon it. (h) 
is a mirrored wardrobe, 
placed so as to afford 
the most effective aid in 
the toilette ; (g) is an ot- 
toman, with a lid which 
opens for the reception of dresses ; (d) is an aperture, 
with flat muslin curtain ; (e) is the wash-stand, and (f) 
another article of domestic utility, provided with doors 
opening into both compartments. 

Let us instance but three well-known edifices as 
illustrating the co-existence of the two qualities we are 
treating of. In order to take in at a glance the 
whole beauty of the Opera House in Paris, one is 




MEDIEVAL CLARET JUG. 



COMMON SENSE. 



139 



obliged to take his stand at some distance in front. 
The moment, however, he finds himself in the best 
position, the stage portion rises up like a huge, un- 
sightly pyramid, and mars the effect. The second 
specimen is nearer our own doors. Were a draughts- 
man delineating, by mere measurement, the whole 
facade of the British Museum, the railings which sur- 
round it would bear but a trifling proportion to the 

Fig. 57. 





COMFORT IN CHAIRS. 



total height. Yet, it has been apparently overlooked, 
that when thrown forward they would tend to shut out 
the view ; and the consequence is, that, to a spectator in 
the street, the building is all but invisible. The third 
ifi the famous Aquarium at Brighton. When a fabric 
was required for the Great Exhibition, Paxton designed 
one which, although but an adaptation from the Chats- 
worth Conservatory, admirably suited its purpose, and 
exhibited, at the same time, unquestionable artistic pre- 



140 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



tension. An opportunity was afforded for the display 
of similar originality in the construction of an Aquarium. 
But it was thrown away. The Abode of Fish had to 
be rendered; the Home of the Mermaid presented to 
the imagination. The monsters and marvels of the 
deep should have been visible through cavities and 
grottoes apparently subaqueous ; a sea-green tone should 
have pervaded the whole, and the place might have 

Fig. 58. 




COMFOKT IN THE BED-CHAMBER. 



been illumined by warm, subdued lights from above. 
Instead of this, we are favored with an unlimited mani- 
festation of " Streaky-bacon " ; there is glitter and be- 
wilderment instead of repose ; there are Gothic arches 
to impart loftiness and elasticity where loftiness and 
elasticity are entirely out of place ; there are uncon- 
cealed iron stanchions in the fernery ; — it is a place 
where one would least expect to find fish. 



COMMON SENSE. 141 



It is of the utmost consequence that we should regard 
the cultivation of Common Sense with serious concern, 
for not only is Taste unable to progress without it, but 
owing to its non-cultivation, material prosperity is im- 
peded. One great drawback to its development is, no 
doubt, the insularity of our position ; depriving us, as it 
does, of a stimulus from ready comparison. But inde- 
pendently of this, there are others more immediately 
remediable ; namely, the tendency to rely upon learning 
and authority, rather than upon the dictates of intuition, 
and an inordinate reverence for the institutions of our 
forefathers. We refuse to march with the times, and 
the result is, the most advanced Continental nations leave 
us behind. Our laws are a labyrinthical fabric of 
artificial and incomprehensible complexity. In the 
apportionment of legal sanctions, a virtual immunity 
is accorded to those vipers of society, the perpetrators 
of wholesale fraud. In Ethics we concern ourselves 
more with the reprobation of venial transgressions than 
with the suppression of offences involving absolute 
moral turpitude. In Politics we stand alone in evinc- 
ing an antagonism against the evolution of national 
unification. In Diplomacy we generally offend all 
round, without creating a single advantageous al- 
liance. In the conduct of hostilities we sacrifice the 
precious lives of our countrymen in expeditions against 
Africans, while we bring over Indians to fight against 
Europeans. We open our eyes with astonishment at 



142 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

the very reasonable expedient of exacting the costs of 
a campaign from a defeated aggressor; terminate a 
successful invasion of our own by subsidizing a van- 
quished foe ; and, when we make war upon Cetewayo, 
do not employ Sepoys accustomed to live upon fari- 
naceous food, to drink water, and sleep upon the 
ground; but soldiers who are twice as valuable to 
the country, who live upon beef and mutton, drink 
beer, repose -upon mattresses, and are just as dependent 
upon commissariat organization as upon a proper 
supply of rifles and ammunition. In Public "Worship 
we set up, in place of a lesser number of majestic 
edifices with grand and impressive services, a series 
of comparatively insignificant ones with tame and com- 
mon-place ministrations. In the treatment of invalids 
we are only just beginning to perceive the pernicious- 
ness of theory when opposed to the promptings of 
natural inclination, and to substitute, for nauseating 
drugs, medicinal waters known to the Eomans eighteen 
centuries ago. In Navigation we nominally lay down 
a " rule of the road," but permit any commander to dis- 
regard it whenever it suits his purpose to do so. In 
Architecture we are slaves to archaeological orthodoxy 
on the one hand ; mere conventionality on the other. 
In the Fine Arts we repudiate the notion of State en- 
couragement; and in Social Science, neglect the most 
palpable measures for ensuring our own contentment. 
I have written in favor of residence in flats ; why ? 



COMMON SENSE. 143 



Because the majority of us, who have not the means for 
dwelling in large houses, would be all the happier for 
it. I do not mean flats like the Yictoria and Albert 
mansions — gloomy, and situated in a noisy thorough- 
fare — but those similar to the new suites in Paris, with 
an ascensor attached to each, double windows in front, 
and, as a matter of course, other modern appliances. 
We have gone on extending the area of London until a 
considerable portion of the days allotted to nian, and a 
vast deal of vital energy also, are wasted in the mere 
operation of going backwards, forwards, upstairs, and 
down. And the greater numbers have been forced into 
this, owing to the absence of Common Sense in munici- 
pal regulations. The favored localities of the early part 
of the century are more convenient, lie higher, and 
must be better drained, than the present resorts of the 
beau monde. There is no reason why they should not 
be re-occupied. But it is impossible this desirable result 
can be attained without the coadjuvancy of the State, or 
of corporations invested with authority by the State; un- 
less approaches be first properly paved, properly lighted, 
and properly cleansed. And I mean by proper paving, 
that wood or asphalte alone should be laid down. The 
latter is by far the more easy and durable of the two ; 
and were it not considered too slippery, would never 
have been superseded. It is too slippery, however, 
only for iron horseshoes, which there is no reason for 
'arrying down to posterity, since India-rubber ones, — 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



or shoes made of some similar substance and covering 
the entire hoof so as to sit firm, — would afford a 
better hold, and be noiseless as well. 

There is no place in the whole world better known 
than Eegent Street. It is spoken of with affection in 
all our Colonies ; it is one of the sights which foreigners 
(who have not seen it) wish to behold ; it possesses a 
decided advantage in an alternation of sun-light and 
shade upon each side; its situation is unrivalled, and, 
notwithstanding all drawbacks, it still holds its own. 
Nevertheless, how long will it continue to hold its 
own unless measures be taken to render it worthy of 
its renown ? Is it not a reflection upon English 
legislation that the obstinacy, or shortsightedness, of 
individual ratepayers should be allowed to nullify all 
attempts at improvement in this notorious Avenue of 
Fashion ? If a strip on one side, even four yards in 
width, were bought up by the Board of Works, and the 
Board itself were to build one handsome block, with 
shop-fronts beneath and suites above; if a bye-law 
were made enforcing facadal uniformity in other 
blocks ; if the street were paved with asphalte or 
wood, and well lighted ; and withal, if a sloping, glass 
covered-way were erected over the pavement running 
the whole length thereof upon each side, would there 
be very much opposition on the part of tradesmen 
who must eventually benefit by this ? And if there 
were opposition, would it not be justifiable to over- 



COMMON SENSE. 145 



whelm it for the sake of the national good ? Indeed, 
towards the expenses of a covered-way, tradesmen might 
contribute, since it would both protect their goods from 
the sun's rays and bring customers as well. It may be 
argued that idlers would congregate under the covered- 
way as they did under the Quadrant Colonnade. They 
did so under the Colonnade because the entire length 
thereof did not exceed three hundred yards, and this 
limitation of space naturally eventuated in crowded 
gatherings. It may be said there are no funds for the 
purpose. Yet there were funds for freeing the bridges ; 
a matter of secondary importance compared with the 
beautifying of the capital. And it may be that the 
Board does not possess the necessary powers. This, 
however, is just the point we are dealing with. If the 
Board does not possess the necessary powers, is it not 
because we suffer our veneration for antiquated insti- 
tutions to over-ride the monitions of practical w r isdom ? 
Were a member to rise from his seat in Parliament to 
propose an alteration demanded by the requirements of 
Taste, he would, in the present immaturity of popular 
appreciation, most probably, be laughed down; because 
Beauty is commonly held to be "a thing of naught"; 
and Taste, so far from being regarded as a Science, or 
anything approaching to a Science, is looked upon as a 
manifestation of unaccountable fancies. 

This Science, however, does not concern itself with 
Buch things alone. The widest field is open to its 

I 



146 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

application. Are we to spend millions in erecting 
extensive public edifices, in widening streets, and 
effecting other improvements, and yet suffer the whole 
face of the metropolis to be disfigured by advertise- 
ments ? Are we to provide no rational entertainment 
for the people ? to make no effort to elevate and refine 
the great mass of our fellow-countrymen ? Are we to 
be the sole " champions of the Decalogue, eternally 
raising fleets and armies to make all others good and 
happy," while the majority of our own compatriots 
have no ideas beyond those imbibed in the pot-house, 
and are ill able to express themselves in their very 
mother tongue ? Does not Taste concern itself with 
the repression of vulgarity in all its phases ? It is all 
very well to say that we are " a business people," and 
that the exigencies of commerce demand the utmost 
latitude in the spread of advertisements. The exigen- 
cies of trade would not suffer by the imposition of 
reasonable restriction upon their dimensions and cha- 
racter. On the contrary, the present system must 
entail an expenditure which few can afford. If Jones 
announces the virtues of his commodities upon a flaming 
placard a dozen feet in width, Eobinson in self-defence is 
compelled to do the same ; and when Jones multiplies his 
announcements, there is no limit to the expense which 
the ardor of competition will entail. So likewise, if the 
omnibuses of one company be allowed to ply through 
the streets with gigantic, wabbling, red umbrellas as 



COMMON SENSE. 147 



badges of distinguishinent, and the shopmen of one 
.-: " ye ermitted to exhibit distracting window-tickets, 
similar privileges cannot be withheld from others. It is 
surely not a matter of paramount importance that the 
superiority of MRS. ALLEN'S HAIR DYE, MRS. 
WIXSLOWS SOOTHING- SYRUP. THORLEY'S 
FOOD FOR CATTLE. <:»AKEY'S KNIFE POLISH, 
and ENO'S FRUIT SALT, should be proclaimed upon 
the house-tops ! Xor is the spirit of man to be irritated 
by glaring and distracting appeals more in keeping 
with bankrupt precipitancy than with the stability of 
_ is and Legitimate fcn le. I: the owners of a 
periodical which enjoys M the largest circulation in the 
world " be not cc at jnt with theii good fortune ; if the in- 
able Singer, having aire : " 1,300,000" 
ing-niachines, be desirous : aelling a few hand] 
thousands more, cannot they make their wishes known 
upon tablet- not exceeding eighteen inches in width ? 
If Da Barry has really effected "90,000 cures" by 
means of Revalenta Arabica. are not the daily news- 
papers at han \ : r the communication of this astounding 
intelligence ? Are we to be | sred by 
perambulating proletarians ing U. and fro with 
panegyrics of every conceivable description prir. 
upon boards of garish color, and incessantly pursued 
Von of SMITH'S CELEBRATED EATS! 
(Fig. 59). If no r - imposed, it is impossi 
to foretell where all this will end. for the ingenuity 

t 2 



148 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



contractors has already devised a shower of hand-bills 
from toy balloons, and a delectable method of startling 
the pedestrian by suddenly casting before his path a 
quivering, magic picture. 

There is scarcely a locality free from these vulgar 
proclamations ; and during the season, when above all 
FlG - 59 - times an effort should be 

made to render the Capital 
attractive, they are not only 
multiplied to an indefinite 
extent, but supplemented by 
an additional corps of sand- 
wich-men. One cannot visit 
the Royal Aquarium without 
being told at the entrance 
that there are some BLUE 
WRASS to be seen inside; 
nor a Restaurant without 
finding the availability of 
NATIVE OYSTERS, POR- 
TER - HOUSE STEAKS, 
and ICED SPIDERS, ob- 
trusively placarded against the wall, or printed upon 
strips of paper pasted across magnificent pier-glasses. 
If one betakes himself to the gardens of the parks to 
refresh his soul with the contemplation of Nature, the 
information will be thrust upon him, whether he desires 
it or not, that one shrub is a Cydonia Japonica, another 




THE SANDWICH MAN. 



COMMON SENSE. 149 



the Taxus Hybernica, a third the Philadelphia 
Coroxarius ; and should he run down to Brighton to 
escape from all this, he will discover that the very 
band-stand upon the pier is encircled by a series of self- 
laudatory encomiums, the chief of which, concerning 
the qualities of PEARS' SOAP — an immense thing in 
fiery red — is discernible from the very Downs. 

Now, I do not think any one will dispute that the 
most fitting vehicle for commercial announcements is a 
periodical. At the same time, if any additional medium 
be desired, it should be subjected to such regula- 
tions as may prevent its being a nuisance, and a dis- 
figurement to the metropolis. Perpetuate the existing 
system, and the reproach attaching to us, in appear- 
ing to be " a nation of shop-keepers," will never be 
removed. 

Not only do we unwittingly obtrude the purely 
mercantile proclivities for which we are stigmatized, 
but we are singularly indifferent to the dissemination 
of refinement except among the upper ten. There are 
picture-galleries in London ; which are closed upon the 
only day when the masses would be able to visit them. 
There are military bands ; which perform at fashionable 
fetes only. There are parks ; but these are provided 
with about one seat for every thousand visitors. The 
laboring classes reside in dirty, neglected localities; 
they have no Schools of Cookery where they can learn 
the art of making a savory, nourishing, and economical 



150 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

meal ; they have little entertainment beyond that to be 
found within the precincts of a gin-palace. And the 
consequence is, both in intellectual enlightenment and 
physical development, they are inferior, on an average, 
to most of the distant races whom we so assiduously 
regenerate, pamper, and protect. They do not know 
how to dress ; they scarcely know how to behave. 
When they turn out on general holidays the upper 
classes are almost compelled to seclude themselves ; and 
thus no opportunity occurs for the acquisition of refine- 
ment. Funds for evangelization ; for the support of 
so-called " converts " ; for Indian famines, which result 
only from defective transport ; for China famines, and 
famines in Morocco ; for Negroes, Polynesians, Russians, 
Servians, Turks, Bulgarians, the people of Hungary 
and the people of Zanzibar — funds for such things are 
ever forthcoming ; but the moment a proposition is 
made for the amelioration of our own country-people, 
we appear to consider that enough has been done for 
them. By a bungling policy we squander away three 
millions of money in satisfying Alabama claims ; we 
boast that this is but a " drop " in the ocean of finance, 
and yet withhold State encouragement from an institution 
like the Crystal Palace, and neglect to establish proper 
Schools of Design to enable British handicraftsmen to 
hold their own against foreign competition. And not 
content with doing nothing for the people, we make war 
upon them. A spirit of hostility is displayed in almost 



COMMON SENSE. 



151 



every notification. The public abroad is " invited to 
protect its own property"; here the populace is warned 
that if they do this, that, or the other, they " will be 
prosecuted." All along the Thames Embankment are 
notices to the effect that persons damaging it will be 
dealt with according to law. Of course they will. Of 
course if they smash lamps, or walk off with blocks of 
granite, they will be handed over to the police. But 
why tell them this ? Why perpetually trumpet their 
liability ? Why treat them as natural enemies, and 
irritate them? The terminal 
stones in Lincoln's Inn Square 
are provided with long spikes, 
inserted for the obvious pur- 
pose of preventing the small 
fry from indulging in flying 
leaps over them. What harm 
if they leap ? What harm 
if a wearied wayfarer sit down 
upon the low pedestal of a 
column ; yet many of these 
also are furnished with spikes. 
There seems to be a mortal 
antipathy against persons who 





Fig. 60. 




Ik 






^^^ 




L^-l 


^— -S 


Wi^' ■ 


— : 


=r -_ ' ~B 


_ J 


fgjygrS 


■ 


^= J 


1 


1 - 





TERMINAL STOKE, LINCOLN S 
INN FIELDS. 



sit down. Almost 
the whole south side of Piccadilly might be fur- 
nished with benches; yet there are five only, capable 
of accommodating twenty people. The proportion of 
seats in the park to the number of visitors is infinitesi- 



152 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

_ 

mally small ; nevertheless, half of these are of cast-iron. 
Thomas has a railing round his establishment in Bond 
Street of the fo] lowing description, and not three feet 
from the ground (Fig. 61). What is this — especially 
in winter — but a source of possible danger ? Nor is 
Thomas the only one who is permitted to set up these 
emblems of barbarity. Do not both Taste and Common 
Sense demand that such things shall cease ? 

In every department we shall find the behests of 

Fig. 61. 




THOMAS S BAILS. 



practical wisdom and the dictates of Taste identical ; 
so that those who look upon Utility as one thing and 
Beauty as another are in error. Take the character of 
furniture, more particularly of bed -room furniture. 
The common method is to leave square edges and 
angular corners ; and there are few among us who 
have not suffered therefrom. Natural Sense tells us to 
round them. So does Taste ; for both rounded and 
beveled edges are more beautiful than square (a b, 
Fig. 62). It tells us likewise that slenderly turned 



COMMON SENSE. 



153 



legs of the usual description (d c) injure the carpet, 
and are, furthermore, not sufficiently deep to allow of 
proper sweeping underneath. Taste, too, points out 
the superiority of higher and more substantial ones (b). 
Take the case of illumination. The ordinary plan is to 
arrange the lamps nearly on a level with the eye, and 
treat them as part of the general decoration. Mere 
observation shows how dazzling this is ; and Taste also, 

Fig. 62. 




THE CHAMFERED EDGE IN FURNITURE. 



following the disposition of sun-light, suggests that 
tliey ought to be placed as far above as possible. Both 
teach us that, even as the luminosity of the sun is 
tempered by suffusion, so should the light from a 
gas-jet be tempered by ground, or opal, glass; yet the 
ordinary plan is to grind the upper part only, and 
leave the lower plain (Fig. G3). 

In ventilating without creating draughts; in pre- 



154 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



serving an equable temperature between bed-chambers 
and reception-rooms ; in abstaining from the practice 
of sitting for hours before a blazing fire, and then going 
directly into passages as cold as the arctic regions ; in 
warming these passages at the proper season of the 
year ; in providing windows for our dwellings which 

Fig. 63. 




COMMON GAS GLOBE. 



may be thrown open during summer (Fig. 3), instead 
of retaining those sliding relics of a bygone age which 
impede the circulation of fresh air, and are continually 
getting out of order (Fig. 4) ; in furnishing with 
comfort, as well as with an eye to " artistic " effect ; 
in using glass as it has been used at the back of St. 
James's Hall, instead of trusting to the effects of carbolic 



COMMON SENSE. 155 



acid; and, generally, in adopting the agreeable pre- 
cautions suggested by Nature, in lieu of resorting to 
disgusting medicaments compounded by the Chemist ; — 
in all such things the requirements of Common Sense 
and Taste are coincident. 

Even in Literature, Music, and the selection and 
arrangement of ordinary words in the intercommunica- 
tion of ideas, the same rules will be found to apply 
whether they emanate from one or the other. When 
Eroll, in ( Strathmore,' grasps a springing tigress by 
the throat, and " holds her to the ground by main 
force, while she tears and gores him in the struggle," 1 
we turn from such description as we ought to turn 
from the representation of a peacock upon the wall, 
because it is unnatural. When Eliza, in ' Cherry Eipe,' 
exclaims " in an exculpatory tone, ' I thought he was the 
gardener's son,'" 2 the plainest understanding perceives 
that the " exculpatory tone " is necessarily understood ; 
and Taste precludes the introduction of what is neces- 
sarily understood. We may overlook, in a novel, ex- 
aggerations in expression howsoever far-fetched. We 
may take it as we read, that "Flora came dashing in," 
and that " Augustus split his sides with laughter." But 
what are we to say when one who goes out to India on 
purpose to chronicle the doings of the Prince of Wales 
informs his readers that at a certain Durbar, which it 
ifl in etiquette to conduct with dignity and decorum, 

1 Vol. i. ch. 2. a Vol. ii. p. 1157. 



156 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

" His Royal Highness jumped up and seized Scindia by 
the hand," and that Scindia in turn, "jumped up and 
spoke to Sir Richard Strachey " ? l This is not infor- 
mation, for neither Scindia nor His Royal Highness 
would jump upon such an occasion ; and if it be in- 
tended for pleasantry, the witticism is no more appre- 
ciable than that of Professor Smith who, in his work 
upon ' Art Education/ describes the Religious Picture 
as " a sort of triangular mixture of the Apostles' Creed, 
the Thirty-nine Articles, and a daily newspaper." 2 

In Music we possess, as all will acknowledge, the 
most suitable medium for the expression of human 
emotion. As a vehicle for the outpouring of lofty and 
varied aspirations it is the one link which binds the 
spirit to the Unseen World, and seems to forecast the 
joys which await the soul in its Future State. Yet an 
attempt is now made to withdraw it from the influence of 
sentiment, and, by the cultivation of technical proficiency 
alone, to appeal to the intellect instead of to the heart ; 
to excuse the prolongation of wearisome monotony by 
urging a necessity for kindling what are called the 
negative emotions, and setting up this as the standard 
of High Art. If we remember the subsidiary impor- 
tance of technical excellence, and the influence which 
the active emotions exercise over our happiness, we 
shall no more permit the " Music of the Future " to 
over-ride the productions of recognized masters than 

1 'From Pall Mall to the Punjab,' p. 375-376. 2 P. 299. 



COMMON SENSE. 157 



we shall allow what may be termed Mr. Whistlers 
Decoration of the Future to thrust aside that which 
is approved by natural percipience. 

The annoyance arising from outrage against harmony 
is far greater in Music than in the less obtrusive Arts, 
and therefore it behoves us more particularly to see 
that in this department of delectation the dictates of 
Common Sense are conformed with. In any secular 
vocal entertainment, it would be in extreme bad taste 
for one of the audience to join in, howsoever faintly. 
In Public Worship the congregation is "invited to 
assist " ; and many a pious Christian feels himself called 
upon to raise his voice, howsoever discordant his notes, 
howsoever disagreeable his articulation. Which of us, 
when entranced by the melodious strains of an efficient 
choir, has not been irritated by the shrill vociferations 
of feminine sanctimoniousness on one side, and the 
discordant moans of masculine devotion on the other ? 
Have we not, over and over again, been excruciated 
by the execution, upon an instrument constructed for 
the performance of dulcet and mellifluous compositions 
only, of such staccato pieces as Mendelssohn's ' Wedding 
March'? Indeed, the potency of Music as an effective 
auxiliary in the conduct of Public Worship appears 
to be, in most cases, entirely overlooked. There is no 
reason why, when we invocate, the Legions of the 
Heavenly Host should not come down, as it were, and 
mingle their voices with ours; or why, after we have 



158 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

chanted a Song of Praise, the gentle strains of the 
organ should not gradually die away in soft cadence 
as the incense of adoration ascends. It would be 
very easy to render the former by a running accom- 
paniment during the supplications ; modulating the 
tone, of course, and drawing out the reed-stops when 
the instrument is provided with such mechanism. We 
should neglect no legitimate means for impressing 
upon the mind the solemnity of Divine Service, and 
the reality of Celestial Felicity ; but it is difficult to 
do this without the concurrence of symphonic effects. 
Nor should the aid even of artistic effects be disdained. 
In most Temples of Worship the organist is visible 
when he ought to be concealed; and, in many parish 
churches, not only this individual, but the frugal swain 
who manipulates the bellows. 

It is not a little singular, however, that, although 
the efficacy of music as an ingredient in Divine 
Worship be insufficiently appreciated, yet it is far from 
uncommon to find an undue prominence accorded to 
what is intended for rhythmical intonation. There is 
no subject so perplexing to earnest minds as the 
comprehension of our Faith, and, therefore, it is the 
more incumbent upon spiritual guides that they should 
not only abstain from unnecessarily embarrassing the 
thoughtful members of their flock, but that they should 
impress congregations with the conviction that they 
themselves apprehend the purport of what they under- 



COMMON SENSE. 159 



take to expound. When a familiar voice exclaims, "I 
am so glad to see you ! " we know what is meant : 
one's friend is so glad to see one. But when the 
Omnipotent is implored " to save all Christian Kings 
and Governors," we do not know what is meant ; for 
possibly the pastor thinks, in common with many of 
his order, that it would be useless to pray for the 
salvation of non-Christians. " Granting us in this 
world knowledge of thy truth, " implies the existence of 
two kinds of truth. " When two or three are gathered 
together in thy Name thou will grant their request," 
signifies, by implication, the futility of more than three 
supplicating. " God, make speed to save us ; Give 
us this day our daily bread ; Lead us not into tempta- 
tion ; Six days shaft thou labour ; Is it lawful for a 
man to put away his wife without a cause ? " — such 
sentences, culled at random from the oratory of the 
pulpit, will serve to exhibit the necessity for proper 
attention to judicious emphasis. 

Lastly, let us instance the carelessness shown in the 
communication of ideas ; both in literature and in con- 
versation. It is not, of course, to be expected that each 
individual should express his sentiments with elegance ; 
nor is it desirable that we should import into the inter- 
change of opinions the pomposity of a pedagogue or 
the frigid preciseness of a mere grammarian. But it is 
one's duty, by the exercise of natural sagacity, to convey 
one's meaning with reasonable perspicuity. We are 



160 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

already sufficiently bewildered by the anomalies of our 
language. While deriding the " lower " classes for 
dropping the h in some words, we ourselves drop it 
in others ; we double the t in forgetting, because the 
accent falls upon the last syllable of the verb, and yet 
do the same in " libelling " or " travelling," although 
the accent does not fall upon the last syllable. Notwith- 
standing a correspondency between orthography and 
articulation in drought, draught is pronounced like 
draft, plough like plow, tough like tuff. We call 
Cirencester Cirster, Knollys Knowls, Gholmondeley 
Chumley, Beauchamp Beechum; and when we speak 
collectively, we cannot use one noun to express aggre- 
gation, but must say, a multitude of men, a mob of 
horses, a herd of cattle, a drove of sheep, a flock of geese, 
a bevy of quails, a covey of partridges, a shoal of fish, a 
school of whales, a swarm of bees, a nest of ants, and so 
on. Beyond all question a great deal of time, which 
otherwise might be devoted to the acquisition of in- 
formation, is wasted in learning mere forms of expres- 
sion. Surely, then, there is no occasion for additional 
obfuscation in supplementing an all but irremediable 
profusion of inconsistencies by imposing upon hearers 
and readers the duty of unraveling the meaning of the 
simplest phraseology when, by the exercise of a little 
reflection, it might be divested of ambiguity. In daily 
parlance we are told about " these sort of people," and 
" these kind of things." Yet we can scarcely blame 



COMMON SENSE. 161 



ordinary conversationalists when habitual inaccuracy 
is apparently sanctioned by the practice of those who 
are looked up to as authorities. " These sort of publi- 
cations," writes Sydney Smith. " These kind of for- 
feitures," says Lord Chancellor Macclesfield. Even a 
writer on English Composition (Barnes, Professor of 
Logic, Aberdeen) discourses about " the right of each 
person to dispose of their labour in their own way." 1 
" Each of the designs is beautiful in their way." 2 
" A vast variety of examples are to be found." 3 
These few additional instances will show that such 
errors are not due to oversights in printing. 

It may be that such phraseology as the following is 
mere inelegance of diction : " Than was Donatello" ; "As 
was generally the case"; " As does music"; "As has 
already been asserted " ; " As is already known." 
And that "Yet still," " Still however," are only pardon- 
able tautology. But what are we to say to such modes 
of expressions as these: "I should have known you 
anywhere ; " 4 "I shall try and forget what has hap- 
pened." 5 "Should" imports an obligation ; nevertheless 
it is constantly used to express an impulse of volition. 
And it needs no discussion to show that " try and 
come " is simply absurd. " I should have liked to have 
made her acquaintance," exclaims one ; meaning he 
would have liked to make her acquaintance (or would 

1 P. 178. 2 Eastlakc, p. 170. 8 Gwilt, p. 861. 

* 'Vanity Fair,' p. f;.°,7. fi 'Fashion and Passion,' iii. p. 107. 

If 



162 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

like to have made her acquaintance). " I should have 
liked to have been with you," savs another : not in the 
least meaning he felt it his duty to manifest a prefer- 
ence, but only that it would have afforded him pleasure. 
"It might have been impossible/' writes Hallam, "to 
have made the abdication." l " Tom Brown," says tbe 
author of his ' Schooldays/ " would have liked to have 
stopped at the Belle Sauvage." 2 "Of which I should 
have liked exceedingly to have taken a sketch " — here 
is a most involved sentence from a well-known ' Journal 
of Our Life in the Highlands.' 3 

A informs us that he "only gave" so much, when 
he intends to convey that he gave only so much ; B 
that he * only saw " X yesterday, when he means that 
he saw him onlv vesterdav; and C that he "only 
admires " French Marqueterie, when he wishes one to 
understand that his admiration for marquetry is con- 
fined to that made by the French. ; * It may be only 
true in the East," says Russell's ' Diary/ 4 " but still, it 
has its influence." It would be useless to multiply ex- 
amples. Let us a^k, in passing, what is meant by a 
person "only dying in 1874 "; 5 and then note the 
language in which public notifications are frequently 
couched. At Queen's Grate is one to this effect : 
" Hackxey Carriages may oxly proceed aloxg the 
direct road to Tictoria Gate." We know that it is 

1 ' Const. Hist.' iii. p. 241. 2 P. 100. ' P. 193. 

4 P. 325. 5 'Fortnightly Review,' 1877, p. 676. 



COmiON SENSE. 163 



as ridiculous to speak of carriages only proceeding as it 
is to talk about men only dying, and that the intention 
of the authorities is, that carriages may proceed to the 
Victoria Gate, but by the direct road only. Is it not 
as easy to say one thing as the other ? 

When we read of an oath being ;i duly adminis- 
tered," a deponent being " duly sworn," and testimony 
" duly considered/' we treat this as technical prolixity 
which has become interwoven with the language of the 
forum. Is there any need to import this prolixity into 
the communication of ordinary intelligence ? What is 
the meaning of a Protocol being :t duly signed," except 
that it was signed after the observance of formalities 
which are presumed ? " The conditions of peace were 
iitively settled"; the document " was signed in 1348, 
anno Domini'': a ' ; juvenile offender, 15 years old, was 
then placed in the dock " ; — such verbosity is not only 
provoking, but perplexing ; almost as perplexing as 
Taylor's " Conclusive proof.'' ' Of course, when the 
editor of a newspaper is obliged to fill so many columns 
a day, verbiage is to be expected. But no such neces- 
sity can be pleaded in ordinary composition. 

The fact is, we are indoctrinated from infancy with 
the charms of redundancy. Here is an extract from a 
'• carefully revised " edition of Markham ? s ■ History of 
England,' expressly intended for the young. " / think 
I can tell you a story which will convince you that they 

1 'Evidence,' vol. : . 

M 2 



164 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

were not all equally bloodthirsty. I heard it many years 
ago in conversation. I believe it was pretty nearly as 
follows. A young Englishwoman was sent to France 
to be educated at a Huguenot school in Paris. A few 
evenings before the fatal massacre, she and some of her 
young companions were taking a walk in some part of 
the town where there were sentinels placed, perhaps on 
the walls ; and you know that, when a soldier is on guard, 
he must not leave his place until he is relieved. One 
of the soldiers, as the young ladies passed him, besought 
them to have the charity to bring him some water ; adding 
that he was very ill, and that it would be as much as 
his life was worth to go and fetch it himself." l Here we 
have, italicized, in half the number of lines, no less than 
twenty-four superfluous words ; and here we have the 
germ of that diffuseness which characterizes popular 
literature. No wonder we read about the " value and 
importance " of Sunday teaching, the " dire and dread- 
ful" calamity which, according to the Lord Mayor's 
appeal, befell the people of Madras ; the " fearful and 
devastating floods " which lately overwhelmed the town 
of Szegedin. 

And the outcome of all this ambiguity is the pre- 
valence of indefinite ideas. One gentleman " paints 
himself"; another "shoots himself"; a third "eats him- 
self." Arabella " composes herself" ; Angelina " nurses 
herself"; Elizabeth " drives herself"; Ethel " cooks her- 

1 1869, p. 269. 



COMMON SENSE. 165 



self." And we constantly hear of persons who " think 
to themselves," although no living soul would maintain 
that there is any such process as thinking to another. 
We speak of a dam as a " mother " ; a sire as a " father " ; 
a filly as a " daughter." One mare is " own sister " to 
another mare ; the young of a huge, wallowing brute, 
is a " baby hippopotamus." An Indian nautch-girl is 
a "fair performer"; the leader of nautch-girls a "pre- 
miere danseuse" A Durbar is called a " Court," a 
Dewan a " Prime Minister"; a Talukdar is a "Baron." 
A Khansama is a " Chamberlain of the Household " ; 
a Nazir a " Sheriff" ; the Munsiff a " Judge " ; and the 
Pundit, whose acquirements do not extend beyond a 
certain familiarity with his Shastras, is u a learned 
man." There is, in reality, as much difference between 
the individuals designated by Eastern terms and those 
described in Western terms as there is between a 
Chinese junk and a British ship-of-war; yet this is 
not the impression conveyed by the resort to European 
terms for a description of Oriental things. It is as 
ridiculous to speak of Babu Kessub Chunder Sen as 
" Kissub Chunder Sen, Esquire," or of Raja Ram 
Bullub as " Prince Ram Bullub," as it would be to 
describe Reginald Turner as Babu Reginald Turner, 
Pontus Maximus as Pontus Maximus, Esquire, or the 
Marquis of Hertford as Raja Francis George Seymour. 
The result is most confusing; for, putting aside minor 
absurdities, the pensioned descendant of an ex-Subadar, 



166 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

(or Governor), is dubbed with the prefix of " His High- 
ness," whereby he takes precedency over magnates 
of the West, and a Zemindar (or farmer of revenue), 
is transformed into a " landowner," in consequence of 
which he enters into possession of what he never was 
entitled to. 1 

We read of Somerset, and discover him to have 
been a fugitive slave ; we hear of Gordon, and find he 
was a negro. The Kaiser -i- Hind turns out to be an 
English steamer ; the Shah and Sultan are both liners 
in the British navy. Montgomery is a black cook on 
board a mail-packet ; Harry and Bob are aborigines of 
Australia. So that we designate one thing by a term 
which carries with it a train of associations applicable 
only to another; repudiate those distinctions of race, 
habits, manners, and costumes which it has evidently 
been intended should prevail, and endeavor to nullify 
the charms of diversity by reducing everything to a 
dead level of dull monotony. 

We have not even come to an understanding upon 
the signification of such words as Beautiful, Artistic, 
and Picturesque. A natural divergence of opinion 
which existed with respect to Beauty, so puzzled the 
philosophers, that Hume reluctantly denied its abstract 
existence; and Sir Joshua Eeynolds hinted in his 
' Discourses ' that it should be idealized with diffidence, 
because its conception so varied among different races. 

1 * Permanent Settlement,' Bengal, Behar, and Orissa. 



COMMON SENSE. 167 



" I have no doubt," he wrote, u that were an Ethiopian 
to depict the goddess of Beauty, he would represent her 
with a black skin, thick lips, and woolly hair. And I 
do not know by what standard we could dispute the 
propriety of his idea." Now, in the first place, as I 
shall show further on, these are not the ideas of an 
" Ethiopian," for he really admires the fair ; in the 
next place, we have nothing to do, in questions of 
Taste, with the notions of any Ethiopian ; and finally, 
if the above did represent his conception, we could con- 
trovert it from the open Yolume of Nature, wherein 
is written, as legibly as possible, that Beauty in the 
animal Creation represents a combination of the highest 
physical and intellectual development, and in inorganic 
Creation, an amalgamation, as it may be styled, of 
grace, parvitude, and undulation or flexibility. In a 
limited sense, every natural production is beautiful, 
since it is admirably adapted to the fulfilment of its 
purpose ; but not in an artistic sense — as gratifying to 
the eye. Were this distinction observed, we would 
probably rest contented with the loveliness of our 
own native scenery, and not seize with avidity upon 
every exotic imported under the capricious auspices of 
Fashion. No one would dispute that carrot-tops are 
infinitely more beautiful than rhubarb leaves. Why is 
this, but because the integrant portions are diminutive ; 
the stalks are more yielding; there is a tendency to 
vibrate upon the slightest agitation, and the whole is, 



168 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



therefore, more graceful ? The same reasoning applies 
to landscape-gardening; ferns being more beautiful 
than India-rubber plants (Fig. 64), and the foliage of 
northern latitudes preferable to any number of banana- 
trees, figs, aloes, and the cacti, whose leaves are rigid, 
and of Cyclopean dimensions. The importance of com- 
parative parvitude, even in individual objects, is uni- 

Fig. 64. 




INDIA-EUBBEE PLANT. 



versally perceptible ; there being no large leaf which is 
not coarse ; no large bird, or huge quadruped, which is 
so pleasant to look upon as a smaller animal. Even in the 
heavens, the " mackerel sky " and filamentous cirri are 
incomparably more charming than the massive cumuli. 
Stiff simplicity, rigidity, and formality — excepting in 
buildings — are inimical to Beauty ; and this we may 



COMMON SENSE; 



169 



further notice by comparing a mangoe-tree (Fig. 65) 
with an elm (Fig. 66). Were this well known, Pater- 
familias would not lay out his miniature " grounds " in 
the form of spades, hearts, clubs, and diamonds ; nor 
would trees be clipped to the shape of cones, cubes, and 
umbrellas. 

Perhaps nothing has so materially contributed to 

Fig. 65. 



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THE MANGOE-TREE. 



the unsettlement of aesthetic minds than the mis- 
comprehension of those very elastic adjectives Pictur- 
esque and Artistic. The latter term is constantly 
used to signify what an Artist would sanction, instead 
of what the principles of Art demand ; and the two 
have become so intermixed as to practically mean one 
and the same thing. One writer recommends " pic- 
turesque effects" in a cornice; another would abolish 



170 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



plate-glass windows, because " a painter would not 
introduce them into his picture." * The number of 
advocates for "picturesque" effects in civic architecture 
is legion, and to the confusion arising from the in- 
discriminate use of these expressions may be ascribed 

Fig. 66. 



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the resuscitation in its entirety of the u Early English " 
style of ornamentation. 

Now, the very essence of picturesqueness is irre- 
gularity, disorder, apparent incompleteness, and un- 
finish ; and these are, surely, not desirable elements in 
the embellishment either of public edifices or private 

1 ' The Drawing-room,' p. 65. 



COMMON SENSE. 



171 



dwellings. A fortiori, they are far from desirable in 
general exterior architecture. TTe should aim rather 
at rendering our buildings, both outwardly and in- 
wardly, beautiful. I know that the two qualities are 
commonly regarded as synonymous — "Whoever travels 
over the Festiniog line of rail," says a notice to that 

Fig. 67. 




THE FISHING-SMACK. 



effect, will "traverse a rugged, but picturesque, country" 
— nevertheless they are not synonymous. Amsterdam is 
picturesque, whilst Paris is beautiful. An old oak side- 
board, bossed, twisted, and clumsily carved, is far more 
picturesque than imitations of modern manufacture ; 
but on that very account they are less in keeping 
with the times. A common fishing-smack (Fig. 07) is 



172 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

absolutely picturesque without being in the least 
beautiful ; a gentleman's yacht is absolutely beautiful — 
let the reader now say whether he would describe it as 
" picturesque." It was with this distinction in view 
that I advocated uniformity in civic architecture. 1 Not 
that one building should be a stereotyped facsimile of 
another, but that general uniformity should prevail, in 
contradistinguishment with the principle of contrariety. 
It would be too much to ascribe the presence of those 
multifarious styles we see around us to any settled plan 
of action, for patriotic cohesion among British people 
appears to be limited to occasional combination for 
fighting purposes. At the same time there can be no 
doubt that there is a widespread desire to effect petty 
contrasts, and the result is a general absence of state- 
liness and splendor. The Pavilion for the Prince of 
Wales at the Paris Exhibition was furnished by an 
eminent firm of upholsterers in the most recently 
approved Mediaeval style. There were the darkest of 
backgrounds to every article of furniture ; the nocturnal 
effect was unquestionably " artistic"; but the result was 
an impression produced upon the mind more in keep- 
ing with a visit to the region of Erebus than to the 
domicile of an enlightened European potentate. The 
votaries for " picturesqueness " will have no hesitation 
in selecting the first of the accompanying sketches 
(Fig. 68) as decidedly the prettiest. And so it is; 

1 Ch. i. 



COMMON SENSE. 



173 



especially on paper. It is taken from the Midland 
Hotel, wherein the deeply-shaded parts are of red 




midland hotel "window. 
Fig. 69. 




SUBSTITUTION FOR ABOVE. 



brick, and the lightly-shaded of dingy yellow. Yet it 
is not so effective as the second would be — which is 



174 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

only slightly altered in outline to admit the introduc- 
tion of what is generally left out, viz. a ventilator 
(Fig. 69). 

It would be well to bear in mind that many artists 
themselves, who attire their persons in the garb of 
picturesque disorder, offend against the rudimentary 
requirements of Taste ; and that half the monstrosities 
which were rampant during the early part of the 
century originated in the endeavor to import into 
real life things which looked well when represented 
upon canvas. Even at the present day our more im- 
pressionable neighbors are 
oftentimes misled by sub- 
mitting to the fascinations of 
these illusory expressions ; the 
ladies affecting wide, open 
collars, and the gentlemen 
loose, neglige ties (Fig. 70), 
out of all harmony with 

AN "ARTISTIC" NECK-TIE. 1 . .,. , _ 

modern civilized costume. It 
should be the aim of the British people to render their 
homes bright and cheerful, and the metropolis of their 
kingdom cleanly and beautiful. 

Will anyone doubt that the misuse of terms and 
phrases exercises a pernicious influence both upon the 
dissemination of refinement and the development of 
character ? What man of culture will engage himself 
in the embellishment of habitations so long as his voca- 




COMMON SENSE. 175 



tion is denoted by a derogatory designation ? There 
is no reason why ladies of education should not devote 
their attention to the business of costume-rnaking*, or 
why persons of superior training should not dress for 
the table the sustenance provided by the Almighty. 
Yet they cannot be expected to do either unless their 
functions are described by appellations more euphonious 
than those furnished by the nomenclature of ruder 
ages. A Decorator now-a-days is more than a "de- 
corator " ; a Dressmaker more than a " dressmaker " ; a 
Cook more than a "cook"; and as to our Domestics, if 
they occupy no higher position in the household than 
that of mere "servants," we cannot but deplore the 
absence of a sympathy which, in all the concerns of 
life, is a most effective stimulus. The prevalence of 
general refinement among our neighbors, and of that 
spirit of genuine independence which permits no man 
to be ashamed of his calling, is beyond question in a 
great measure due to the grace of their language. 
Monsieur and Madame 9 being of universal application, 
no social distinction is unnecessarily implied by their 
use. With us, both animosity and ridicule are created 
by variable prefixes, and designations conferred in 
conformity with status and gradation. If a Laundress 
be never styled a " lady," she is offended; yet when she 
is, one is struck with the incongruity. Nor is this all ; 
for the universal fatuity to be treated as "ladies" and 
" gentlemen " is the principal cause of that ruinous 



176 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

prodigality so singularly characteristic of our race. 
Monsieur and Madame are in themselves more elegant 
than "Mister" and "Mistress"; Chef , Blanchisseuse, and 
Lajillede Cuisine far choicer appellations than "Head- 
cook," Washer- woman," or " Kitchen-maid " ; Dossier 
does not by implication suggest the unctuosity of an 
" Anti-macassar " ; and the words Buffet, Brasserie, 
Cafe, Restaurant, import altogether a different condi- 
tion of things from that subsisting under the regime of 
the " Chop-house," " Eating-house," " Coffee-shop," and 
" Grin-palace." Compound words, to say the least, are 
inelegant, being but one step in advance of Mongolian 
agglutinations ; but, in addition to this, they seldom 
convey the meaning they are intended to express. A 
" Chair-back," granting it to be a more elegant ex- 
pression than "Anti-macassar," is ostensibly the back 
of a chair; a "Lady-help," while giving herself the 
airs of a superior being, is regarded by domestics only 
as a housekeeper; and a "Coffee-palace" is far from 
being a fitting designation for. a room, or series of 
rooms, wherein members of the working classes as- 
semble for the purpose of imbibing " coffee." It is 
customary to applaud the terse simplicity of the Anglo- 
Saxon tongue, but we shall have little chance of 
imbuing the popular mind with the temper of refine- 
ment unless, following in the footsteps of our neigh- 
bors, we aim at Classicizing our language. Were the 
Universities under State control, it would be part of 



COMMON SENSE. 177 



their duty to rectify our vocabulary ; or even if we had 
a Department of Taste, we might be furnished, through 
its intercession, with substitutions as welcome as Tele- 
gram was in lieu of " Telegraphic-message." We have 
not yet, however, arrived at that enviable state of 
advancement. Everything being left to the conscien- 
tiousness of Corporations and the energy of private 
enterprise, we derive but little benefit from so-called 
u public " institutions, and are placed at a disadvantage 
in coping with the requirements of the age. 

Our talented Prime Minister tells us that men are 
governed by words and phrases. There can be no 
doubt they are misled by them. Ever since the 
a children of the East and the children of the West " 
have been "united under one just and gentle sceptre" l 
there has been a constant endeavor to fasten upon 
u the Mother Country " the pecuniary responsibilities 
of her vast " dependency " ; and this is only one of 
the numerous wa}/s in which " the generous British 
public " has manifested an inclination to saddle itself 
with the burdens of other people. We are now informed 
that India — whose merchants, bankers, and landowners 
are in the receipt of incomes larger than our own — 
is a " poor " country, 2 and it is intended to lend her 
2,000,000/. free of interest. I am not going to discuss 
political questions. It may be regarded as "a contri- 

1 Lord Lytton's Address. 

2 A native gentleman was suing in January last, according to the Privy 
Council Reports, for possession of "an estate comprising 7000 villages!" 

N 



178 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

bution towards the expenses of the Afghan war," just 
as the 6,000,000/. spent in bringing over Sepoys to 
Cyprus was regarded as a contribution towards the 
maintenance of our " Prestige." It is not easy to 
understand why, if British rule be a benefit to the 
people of India — as, without the slightest doubt, it is — 
and the invasion of Afghanistan was necessary to the 
stability of that rule, the people of India should not 
pay for it. But this much may be said, that if half 
the interest upon two millions at four per cent., or one 
third upon that given for the Sepoys, were spent upon 
the cultivation of Taste in this country, British Pres- 
tige would stand higher than it ever will with all our 
nervous intermeddlement in continental affairs, and 
all those successful expeditions against semi-barbarians 
from which we derive no substantial advantage. 



PERSONAL ADORNMENT. 179 



CHAPTER TI. 

PERSONAL ADORNMENT. 
MALE ATTIRE. 

It is not a little remarkable that, although decoration 
in general is characterized by floridity, yet, in personal 
adornment, the lively costumes of past centuries have 
been supplanted by the gloom of funereal apparel, and 
black has come to be regarded as an emblem of 
" respectability." M. Blanc, with that imaginative- 
ness which distinguishes his race, discovers in this a 
fanciful association with the progress of civilization, 
which, he says, " whenever it develops, causes man 
to abandon colour to woman, and nations to proclaim 
their brotherhood by similarity in garb." 1 

It is scarcely necessary to say that there is no 
rational connection between civilization and sombre 
apparel. Existing attire is a revolutionary and puri- 
tanical legacy; and many a "good" man, even at the 
present day, deems it desirable to manifest his con tempt 
for mundane pleasures by investing his person in the 
dismal habiliments of a mute. There is no reason why 
enlightenment itself should not aid us in setting off to 

1 Page 67. 

\ 2 



180 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



advantage such figures as it has pleased the Almighty 
to give us, and in stamping out the shiny broadcloth 
which still retains its hold upon the middle classes. 
The merchant will work as well in any other material, 
and as to color, " if a man cannot get to heaven," 

as Sydney Smith says, 
"in a green coat, he 
will not go there in a 
grey one." 

The principle of mo- 
dern attire appears to 
centre in the frock-coat. 
The chimney-pot hat is 
supremely ridiculous; it 
in no way conforms with 
the shape of the head ; 
in a breeze it has to be 
held on ; the least sprink- 
ling of rain necessitates 
a visit to the ironers ; it 
must be carefully and 
continually brushed in 
one particular direction ; it cannot be packed into a small 
compass ; and, lastly, when it blows off, some one has to 
run after it (Fig. 71). It is of all things the most un- 
suited to a windy and rainy climate like ours ; yet it 
suits the frock-coat. And the same argument is used in 
reference to trousers. Except in fine weather, they have 




THE MODERN HAT. 



PERSONAL ADORNMENT. 



181 



to be turned up to prevent them soiling (Fig. 72); 
after sitting, they bag at the knee ; and while sitting, 

Fig. 72. 




the convenience op modern trousers. 
Fig. 73. 




THE REALTY OF MODERN TROUSERS. 



present to the spectator some such spectacle as the 
above (Fig. 73). Nothing, however, is considered 



182 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



to " go " better with the frock-coat. Were all this 
true, it would be well to urge the abolition of the 
frock-coat. But it is not true. The huntsman's cap 



Fig. 74. 



would harmonize just as well as 
the stove-pipe, and be ever so 
much more convenient; knee- 
breeches and gaiters would be 
quite as becoming as trousers. 
And, if the latter garments savor 
too much of the turnip-field, 
some modification of the costume 
worn a century ago would 
admirably adapt itself to our 
requirements (Fig. 74). The 
cardinal rule in all attire — male 
and female — is that it should 
harmonize, as far as possible, 
with the figure, and, certainly, 
trousers do not do so, more espe- 
cially such trousers as are cut 
upon Parisian patterns (Fig. 75). 
Many of the anomalies in 
costume owe their origin to 
preposterous attempts at improving upon Nature. The 
chimney-pot hat is supposed to impart height; and 
so is the ridiculous bear-skin which an unfortunate 
foot-guard is compelled to wear. In the same way 
flanging trousers are introduced with the object of 




SUGGESTION FOE COSTUME. 



PEESONAL ADORNMENT. 



183 



making the feet look small. Both these desirable 
characteristics will be developed in reality by a little 

Fig. 75. 




THE PARISIAN CUT. 



attention to healthy exercise, proper ventilation, and 
such like ; but their simulation Fig. 76. 

is nonsensical. Notwithstanding 
their gigantic head -gear, foot- 
guards look no taller than metro- 
politan constables ; and nothing 
is more ridiculous than to conceal 
all but the tip of the foot. 

So exigent is the rule just laid 
down, that, even if a helmet 
(which, in so far as it is rounded 
at the top, is preferable to the 
stove-pipe) be unnecessarily high, 
it will simply excite ridicule (Fig. 76), and a field- 
marshal's cocked-hat, — bedecked as it is with plumes, 

" To fright the souls of fearful adversaries," 




LOCAL POLICEMAN S HELMET 



184 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



— must set one pondering upon the mysteriousness of 
human comprehension. The huntsman's cap, or some- 
thing like it, would conform with the requirements of 
this rule, and afford protection to the eyes without the 
Fig. 77. introduction of an all-round 

brim, for which there is not 
the least necessity. 

A striking instance of un- 
conformity with the rule is 
afforded in our ordinary mari- 
time garniture. Were poor 
Jack's " board ship " gear 
made for any other animal 
it could not be more ill- 
adapted to the human form 
(Fig. 77). It is tight where 
it ought to be loose, loose 
where it ought to be tight; 
the legs assume a pyramidal 
form ; the deep, full collar 
narrows the shoulders, and 
the open front is a standing invitation to attacks of 
pneumonia. 

Nor is our own costume, although in fit it is superior, 
a whit more sensible ; for, although we may envelope 
ourselves in warm, thick waistcoats and double-breasted 
coats, we perambulate at all hours with nothing but a 
vest and shirt-front between the most delicate part of 




MAEITIME GEAR. 



PEESONAL ADOENMENT. 



185 



the chest and a temperature ranging from 45° to zero. 

A scarf, indeed, is usually worn by the upper classes, 

and some protection, although far from sufficient, is thus 

afforded ; but this is not sported by the generality. Is 

there any reason why scarves should not be considered 

part and parcel of the dress ? or why a winter coat, to 

say the least, should not button up to the throat ? Of 

course, if the latter plan were adopted, we won Id do 

away with the scarf-pin, which is 

a set-off to the sombreness of the 

whole costume. But then there 

might be a gold thread, or facing, 

round the collar ; and brass buttons 

might be revived. Especially for 

evening dress would I advocate the 

revival of brass (or gilt) buttons ; 

for the effect of these would be to 

impart a finish which is wanting to 

existing attire. 

These are not fundamental changes. 
Nevertheless, if they be not desired, 
let us, at all events, have our vest- 
ments properly cut, so that they pre- 
sent some similitude with the lines 
of the human figure. I do not see, in the first place, 
why we should not plead on behalf of those who are 
unable to speak for themselves. Are our military de- 
fenders and municipal custodians to be for eve* put 




THE SKIRT OF THE 
" PEELER." 



186 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

into garments such as that in Fig. 78 ? They do not 
make guys of their soldiers and policemen across the 
Channel ; but if the surtout of one, and frock-coat of the 
other, be considered unbecoming to men in this country, 
let the skirts of their coats, at all events, fall to the 
figure, and not "radiate" from the waist like that in 
the preceding sketch. 

This falling to the figure is a sine qua non in good 
dressing. Not only do the skirts turned out from the 
Army Clothing Department, and those provided for the 
police brigade, project in a ridiculous manner, but, 
in a minor degree, do those also which the majority of 
private tailors furnish to their customers. Especially 
is this so in the case of a morning coat. This may 
easily be avoided by lifting the skirt in front, and 
" drawing " the braid along the edge. It has already 
been suggested that the dimensions of trousers should 
assimilate themselves to the circumference of the leg. 
Let us see whether the caprices of Fashion cannot be 
controlled in the lines of the waist. Two years ago the 
body of the coat terminated fully two inches above the 
bend of the natural body ; a year ago it condescended 
to elongate itself to within one inch, and now it hovers 
with varying humor between that and the limit it ought 
never to have forsaken. I would that we no longer sub- 
mitted to the whimsicalities of tailors, but that we dress 
as Nature herself tells us we ought to dress. More will 
be said upon this point when we come to speak of 



PERSONAL ADORNMENT. 187 

feminine attire, and therefore we will proceed to the 
one or two remaining matters. 

When a tailor arranges one's buttons he generally 
starts from the top ; so that it is quite a matter of 
chance whether or not one of them coincides with the in- 
flexion of the body. He should commence with the line 
of inflexion. When he cuts out a waistcoat he will 
invariably scoop it at the armhole, to allow, as he will 

Fig. 79. 




AN ORDINARY WAISTCOAT. 



explain it, a sufficient " play " (Fig. 79). It in no way 
interferes with the freedom of an arm to let the top of the 
waistcoat lie upon the shoulder, even to the extent indi- 
cated by the dotted lines above, and it improves materially 
the set of the coat to do so. Details of this sort are not 
mere trivialities ; they conduce to comfort, and obviate 
that sensation of being encased, which cannot but arise 
when apparel does not conform with natural flexibility. 
Nor is it advisable to discard trivialities; although, of 



188 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



course, it does not do to pay too much attention to 
them. Philosophers would smile at any observation 
concerning the spots or stripes on a tie ; yet, as already 
remarked when speaking of the bifurcations of a door- 

Fig. 80. 





PROPERLY MADE SCARVES. 



strap, there is no reason why they should be arranged 
the wrong way when it is just as easy to arrange them 
in the right way. Almost every scarf we see, even in 
the most expensive shops, is put together in utter de- 



Fig. 81. 





BADLY MADE SCARVES. 



fiance of the pattern. Is it very difficult to present 
them to the eye with some regard to symmetry, as in 
Fig. 80, instead of stitching them together anyhow ? 
(Fig. 81.) Why, again, should they be cut either 
straight across (a), or with a curve upwards (b), when, 



PEESONAL ADOENMENT. 



189 



by the simple expedient of sloping them downwards, 
they might be made to harmonize with the rest of the 
costume ? (c, d.) To treat such matters with lofty dis- 
dain is not to manifest superior intelligence, but to 
display an absence of accurate discernment. What is it 
which led to the retention of the stick-up collar after its 
relegation to the region beneath the chin, but a contemp- 
tuous indifference to the lines of harmony in minutiae ? 
(a, Fig. 82.) Wherein lies the super-excellence of a 





Fig. 82. 






fegtejijig^ /SlSKSi 




WlisSP^' ^P^mXIM 








A 


B 





DIFFERENCES IN COLLARS. 



properly-cut coat, but in a concatenation of differences 
in themselves inconsiderable? (Compare B with a.) 

Although in male attire we are accustomed to 
precedency, yet in most other departments we com- 
placently regard the elegance of Parisian "taste" as 
the offspring of an intuitive discrimination transcending 
the limits of Anglo-Saxon attainment. As a matter of 
fact, the secret of Parisian success lies chiefly in a 
scrupulous attention devoted to trifles. Especially will 
this be noted in the making-up of ladies' costume. 'Flic 



190 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

Parisian dressmaker will take more pains than an 
English dressmaker. Even among tailors it is, not- 
withstanding the simplicity of masculine garb, most 
difficult to obtain a satisfactory fit. During the process 
of trying-on, a series of hieroglyphics is chalked upon 
one's vestments, but not a single exact denotation ; and 
every direction will be entrusted to the fallibility of 
individual memory. 

I trust the reader is under no impression, from my 
allusion to Sydney Smith's humorous observation about 
the " green coat," that any radical change is contem- 
plated in regard to color, — although a certain relaxation 
in this respect would not be unwelcome. At the same 
time there is what may be termed a national aspect to 
the subject-matter of these pages, in which tint and hue 
occupy a conspicuous position. Vast as the vaunted 
wealth of England may be, there is not a capital in 
Christendom which presents such a neglected, bedrag- 
gled appearance as the metropolis of this Empire. 
Whether the streets need it or not, water-carts are sent 
out to deluge them with slush ; holes are made in 
macadamized roads by senseless successive sweepings ; 
there is no regulation about the cleansing of foot-pave- 
ments ; the crossings, instead of being raised above the 
surrounding level, are almost invariably hollowed into 
grooves by the birch-broom of the scavenger ; and their 
guardianship, as before-said, is entrusted to the capri- 
ciousness of mendicant Bohemians. All this is disgust- 



PEESONAL ADOENHENT. 191 

ing enough. But when, in addition, the thousands 
engaged in ministering to the necessities of society are 
permitted to pursue their various avocations in habili- 
ments of the most unkempt and slovenly description, it 
becomes a matter for serious consideration whether the 
force of enlightened opinion should not assert itself 
in bringing about a general adoption of livery. Is 
there any reason why drivers and conductors of public 
conveyances, skippers and crews of river steamboats, 
and even the sweepers of crossings, should not be 
compelled to wear some kind of uniform ? It cannot be 
pretended that these men, who, if not, strictly speaking, 
public servants, are quasi -public servants, occupy a 
higher position in the social scale than troopers, railway 
officials, policemen, and the corps of Commissionaires. 
And as to crossing-sweepers, a fraction of the money 
spent in furnishing tracts and blankets to alien abori- 
gines would provide these unfortunates with comfortable 
clothing. 

The fact is, suggestions for the amelioration of this 
condition of things, if occasionally brought upon the 
tapis at all, relapse into oblivion because it is no one's 
duty to bring them forward ; and because the cultivation 
of Taste is practically regarded as unessential to the 
progress of substantial prosperity. The foregoing pages 
have been written in vain if it has not been rendered 
clear that the development of aesthetic perception does 
not result in the production of things which are merely 



192 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

pleasing to the eye, but of things which are serviceable. 
Will it be maintained that beaver and felt are suitable 
materials for cabmen's hats ? There is no place in the 
world where glazed ones are so necessary as in London 
— black for winter wear, and light grey, or fawn, for 
summer — yet it is left for Paris to take the initiative. 
There is no place in the world wherein ^shelter from 
rain is so requisite ; yet we have very few porticoes, 
and only one Arcade. There is no spot on earth 
wherein cleanliness is so essential to personal comfort 
and to the preservation of apparel ; notwithstanding 
which, our roads are not unlike quagmires, our pave- 
ments are besmeared with mud. 



PERSONAL ADORNMENT. 193 



CHAPTER YII. 

PERSONAL ADORNMENT. 
FEMININE ATTIRE. 

Among the many recently-published treatises upon the 
subject of feminine attire is an excellently-written work 
from the pen of Mrs. Oliphant, which appeared last 
year in ' Art at Home ' series. Putting aside the his- 
torical portion, however, the sum and substance of this 
little book is nothing more or less than a recommenda- 
tion for the retention of the Princesse costume, minus 
the bandages and ligatures which impede locomotion. 1 
In this entreaty for the retention of the Princesse the 
male sex, certainly, will earnestly join. The ladies 
themselves, however, will want to know something 
more. They will naturally enquire the reasons for the 
preference shown, and whether or not they are to be 
debarred the fascination of ever-recurring " variety." 
I will endeavor now to satisfy these demands. 

In the first place, we should retain the Princesse 
because, after chopping and changing about for cen- 
turies, we have at last got something which conforms 
with the contour of the human frame ; and this con- 

1 P. 70-75. 

O 



194 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

formity has already been laid down as the cardinal rule 
in the Art of Dress. We have only to glance back at 
what has been worn, in order to be convinced that this 
rule has played no part at all in the costumes of bygone 
ages. Mrs. Oliphant rails at the " lords of Creation " 
for the monstrosities they have worn under the desig- 
nation of apparel. But the truth is that, notwith- 
standing the absurdities of which they have been guilty, 
there have been times when male attire was tasteful to 
a degree, whereas at no period but the present has the 
garb of the fair sex harmonized with the natural form ; 
and the improvements effected within the last few years 
are in a great measure owing to the declamation of the 
men, to the advice tendered by men, to the designs 
furnished by men, and to the efforts of that arrogant 
male "arbiter of women's destinies" whose laws, 
according to the gentle authoress herself, the female 
members of the community " obey like slaves." 1 In 
the next place, we have in the Princesse an example 
of the beauty of artistic simplicity. Hitherto, simplicity 
has been associated with shapelessness and inelegance ; 
so that the mind turned in disgust from the term, and 
everything connected with it. Thirdly, it serves as a 
foundation for the contrivance of other tasteful designs. 
We cannot be too particular in insisting upon con- 
formity with the human figure, both because the history 
of costume shows that the passion for novelty leads to 

1 P. 65. 



PEESONAL ADOENMENT. 195 

frequent eccentricity, and because attempts are even now 
made, as exemplified in M. Worth's revival of panniers, 
to break away from the trammels of artistic simplicity. 
But, lest the rule may be appealed to in favor of any 
such absurdity as the Bloomer costume, let it be borne 
in mind, as we said when speaking of male attire, that 
dress should harmonize " as far as possible " with the 
figure ; the meaning of which in the present instance 
would be, that the flowing skirt, notwithstanding that, 
strictly speaking, it does not conform, should be retained 
from considerations peculiar to the sex. 

It is commonly supposed that a flowing skirt is an 
advantage in imparting " height"; but it is difficult to 
perceive the desirability of imparting this quality to 
the gentler sex. Of course a small woman may not 
come up to the northern standard of beauty ; but in 
speaking generally we are bound to abstain from ex- 
pressions which confound the attributes of the male 
with those of the female. Height, beyond a certain 
standard, which for these latitudes we may fix at 5 feet 
6 inches, is not so much to be aimed at as sinuosity and 
flexibility; for these qualities are not only graceful in 
themselves, but associated with characteristics peculiarly 
feminine. As we should always express in Art those 
features which distinguish the genus homo from the 
order of Creation immediately beneath, so we should 
carefully bring into prominence such peculiarities as 
are essentially fascinating in the fair companions of our 

o 2 



196 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



\ r^A (I 



toil. The chief of these is pliancy of disposition ; ' and 
this is indicated by flexibility in the person. We may 
talk as we please about ignoring, eradicating, or mor- 
tifying the sensuous element in human nature ; yet the 
impulses implanted by the hand of Beneficence will 
assert themselves despite the loftiness of theory, and 
impel us to recognize the virtues of the matured pre- 
sence, swelling hips, and yielding waist. Moreover, 
they will prompt us, notwithstanding the charms of 
stature, to retain in the vocabulary of the affections 
such terms as import diminutiveness. There is some- 
thing more in the phrase, " dear little thing," than that 
which, according to Mr. Knight, arises from reminis- 
cences of childhood. It implies the presence of all 
those captivating qualities which distinguish persons 
we like from those whom, with certain reservations, 
we "admire." Now, a short skirt, which "just 
clears the ground," may be more convenient than a 
long one ; but it sways with the figure, and therefore, 
so far from conducing to the impression of flexibility, 
destroys it. 

I do not know that the writings of Mrs. Haweis will 
exercise any influence in precipitating the annihilation of 
small waists ; nevertheless, since she has some authority 
for the observations she makes upon them, it will be well 
here to record an emphatic dissent from her opinions. 
She says, in her work on * Art and Beauty, 1 that the 

1 Pp. 67, 50. 



PERSONAL ADORNMENT. 197 

natural figure is " much more like an H than a V," and 
therefore objects to any artificial contraction which draws 
it out of similitude with an H ; supplementing her pro- 
testations by physiological diagrams, extracted from 
some medical work, exhibiting the terrible consequences 
of tight lacing. That many women do possess figures 
more like an H than a V no one will deny ; but to the 
ideal figure, such as that which is based upon an inti- 
mate knowledge of the human frame, and which should 
serve as a guide in all suggestions, the very con- 
verse of this description applies. Whenever exercise is 
taken which developes every part of the body, the 
waist naturally becomes slim. And, not only slim, but 
so pliant as to succumb to pressure, and need it, for 
" keeping one together." All people habituated to 
athletic discipline both wear, and have occasion for, 
cinctures of some kind. The use of corsets, then, to 
which the lady in question objects in toto, is dictated 
by physical requirements, and does not, moreover, 
necessarily lead to tight lacing. Extremes of all kinds 
are objectionable ; but an occasional indulgence in them 
is no argument for the abandonment of those funda- 
mental rules from which they are offshoots. Indeed, 
we have already advocated the advisability of never, in 
any matter, departing from " the modesty of Nature." 

The authoress above mentioned makes an onslaught 
likewise against low bodices, both as " hideous and 
unmeaning," and because their effect is " to diminish 



198 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

height." * If the charms of the sex can be suggested 
without transcending the bounds of decorum, one object, 
at any rate, of the artistic dressmaker is gained, al- 
though at the sacrifice of height. But we never meet 
with persons who are sensible of any diminution in ap- 
parent stature when a lady is attired in a low-necked 
dress ; for, when these are worn, the trains are longer 
than ever, and the eye takes in at a glance the whole 
spectacle, from the summit of the head to the bottom of 
the skirt. And so far from their being hideous and 
unmeaning, I express at least the sentiments of my 
own sex in regretting that they have fallen into 
desuetude. 

It has been said of Fashion that it is " designed to 
help those who want help, to cover deficiencies, to 
conceal the evils wrought by time, and to make those 
look their best to whom no special charm has been 
given." These virtues may, with greater accuracy, be 
ascribed to the Art of Dressing; for so capricious a 
mistress is Fashion, that she enforces the adaptation of 
costume even to the periodical exigencies and chronic 
infirmities of Royal personages. The first duty of a 
dressmaker is, of course, to follow implicitly the con- 
tour of the perfect figure ; but her second decidedly is 
to emphasize the beauties and physical characteristics 
of her sex. With this object in view she will abstain 
from introducing anything which widens the waist and 

1 P. 82. 



PERSONAL ADOBNMENT. 199 

neck, or narrows the shoulders, bust, or hips. The 
days of " the sloping shoulder " have happily gone by, 
together with " Swan necks," and those stiff British 
corsets which encased the body and contracted the chest ; 
yet an attempt is still made to confine the hips, as if 
it were a duty to conceal every attraction essentially 
feminine. Walker, in his ' Analysis of Beauty,' divides 
womankind into three primary classes ; that in which 
the nutritive system is principally developed, as ex- 
emplified in the Venus de' Medici ; that in which the 
organs of locomotion predominate, as in the Diana ; 
and that wherein all seems sacrificed to the presence 
of intellect, as in the long-robed goddess of "Wisdom, 
Minerva. Most EDglish ladies would appear to wor- 
ship at the shrine of Diana ; for they are very partial 
to jackets which are pretty nearly of the same dimen- 
sions all the way down, and particularly tight below 
the waist. Indeed, one might suppose the aim of the 
fair ones was to bring about a transmutation of the 
sexes ; because these up-and-down jackets, which en- 
large the waist and narrow the haunches, are fre- 
quently accompanied by the wearing of felt hats, 
which are about as becoming to women as flowers and 
feathers are to men. How far we are justified in 
helping those who need help by emphasizing, must be 
left very much to individual judgment. A shoulder 
may be " lifted " and a little addition made in front ; 
but all beyond this savors of attempted deception. 



200 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 






Let us now enter into detail and see what is meant 
by harmony with the figure. The accompanying 
diagram (Fig. 83) represents three kinds of jackets 
worn within the last two years. The first is the cut of 
an ordinary velvet or sealskin, trimmed with fur. 
The reader will observe no conformity whatever with 
the human shape ; and therefore, be the material ever 

Fig. 83. 




DIFFEKENCES IN JACKETS. 



so rich, be the trimming of beaver, sable, otter, or 
skunk, this is a jacket to be avoided. The second is 
better, inasmuch as it does not so much break the 
continuity of the line from the nape of the neck down- 
wards. But the best is the third, which came into 
favor in the autumn of 1877. I know nothing more 
hideous than a thing like the following (Fig. 84), 
which M. Blanc introduces, at page 158 of his book, 



PERSONAL ADORNMENT. 



201 



Fig. S4. 



without one condemnatory remark ; still, it is no more 
an outrage against principle than many a jacket or 
paletot worn by ladies of fashion. It is impossible 
to walk a hundred paces in Regent Street without 
encountering one standing out 
from the skirt (a, Fig. 85) instead 
of falling with it, as in b. 

Even in trimming, we should 
be careful to conform with the 
figure. What is the object of 
carrying down a series of parallel 
lines, either on a body or a cloak 
(Fig. 86) ? Many of us have 
noticed objects of this description, 
even at Madame White's ; and 
their presence in her window 
show that it is not against the 
humbler classes alone that the 
imputation of " bad taste " may 
be urged. All lines, whether they be those of trim- 
mings or of mere seams, should converge towards the 
waist ; for this, as the centre of pliancy, is the chief 
feature which denotes the charm of woman's dispo- 
sition. Of the two sketches shown in Fig. 87, the first 
shows how trimmings ought to be applied ; and the 
second, the management of seams. The usual plan is to 
cut the top of the sleeve in a line doping from a to B; 
and many good dressmakers consider that there ought 




M. ELA>*C S L'OLilAN. 



202 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



to be a scoop at its insertion at the back (see dotted 
line). The shoulder-seam, moreover, is brought down 
from the neck to the middle of the armhole (c, d). 
Now, these are wrong. There is absolutely no object 
in the latter arrangement, except to keep alive remi- 
niscences of the defunct " sloping shoulder " theory ; 
and the freedom of the arm is in no way impeded by 
prolonging the line from the waist upward, to the 

Fig. 85. 




DIFFEKENCES IN JACKETS. 

top of the shoulder, as in x, t. (I would commend 
these remarks to the consideration of gentlemen also.) 
Not many months ago it was the fashion to have a 
broad, flat pleat behind ; from the waist to the bottom 
of the skirt, and as wide above as below. This ought 
never to have been permitted, for lines should always 
diverge from the waist. 

Again, not only should harmony with contour be 
vertically observed, but horizontally also. Bands in 



PERSONAL ADORNMENT. 



203 



the skirt, for example,, should, in general, be equally 
distant all round from the end thereof; the bottom of 

Fig. 86. 




IMPROPER LINES IN TRIMMING. 



a jacket, likewise, lying straight across, as in the first 
of the figures shown in Fig. 88. And if any declivity 
be desired, the slope ought to take a downward direc- 



Fig. 87. 





PROPER LINES IN TRIMMING, CUT, AND SHOULDER SEAM. 

tion from the front (x), and not from the back (y) ; 
excepting there be a combination of slopes, in which 



204 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



case, of course, the first necessarily takes a downward 
direction (z). 

Perhaps rules of this kind, concisely stated, will meet 
with ready assent. Yet, where do we ever find them 
generally observed ? If trimmings take a certain direc- 
tion one year, they are pretty sure to take the opposite 
direction the following year ; and if things happen to 
come right, it is more by chance than design. The 

Fig. 88. 




ARRANGEMENT OF LATERAL LINES. 



fact is, we have no code of rules, and are dependent 
entirely upon the caprices of those whose interest it is 
to maintain a continuous succession of changes. 

Two sketches appear upon the opposite page for the 
purpose of showing the effect of trimming injudiciously 
introduced (Fig. 89). Per se, there is no objection to 
either, for the first converges towards the waist, and the 
second harmonizes laterally with the neck. Yet they 



PERSONAL ADOKNMENT. 205 

both narrow the shoulders; and the second is an infringe- 
ment of a rule we shall now lay down, to the effect that 
no trimming should so project as to interfere with the 
broad outline of configuration. On the same ground, 
frills and ruffles, unless so devised as to sit close to the 
neck, are to be deprecated. 

In fact, the main principles to be kept in view are 
the emphasizing of natural beauties when emphasis is 
necessary, and the avoidance of everything tending to 

Fig. 89. 





SPECIMENS IN TRIMMING. 



enlarge the apparent circumference of the waist, neck, 
wrist, and ankles. At one time it was the fashion to 
wear bows attached to the back of the waist band ; and, 
even now, such a thing is not uncommon (see A, Fig. 90). 
This is a mistake ; for bows ought to depend, as shown 
in diagram b. And this principle may be carried 
into the minutest details. There are very few of us 
who will not at once acknowledge the absurdity of 
anklets in producing a clumsy, draggle-down appear- 



206 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



ance (Fig. 91). Wherein, however, do such ungraceful 
ornaments differ, excepting in degree, from the massive 
bracelets, and projecting rings, worn by half the ladies 
in the land ? These equally enlarge dimensions which 
ought to be narrow; which Nature herself has de- 
signedly constricted by anatomical ligatures. Properly 
speaking, bracelets ought to be so constructed as to 
keep their place upon the swell of the arm ; but if 
they continue to be worn upon the wrist, both these 

Fig. 90. 




SASHES AND BOWS. 



and finger rings ought to be as flat as possible, and sit 
close. I myself am very much in favor of armlets; 
since the upper part of the arm is naturally larger 
than the lower. One can understand that it is ex- 
pedient occasionally to display the size or rotundity of 
a precious stone ; but neither the finger nor the wrist 
is the best place for any jewel which does not lie low. 
And when we descend to the feet, what do we usually 
discover but the same disregard of physical contour 
which has characterized costume in other matters ? We 



PERSONAL ADORNMENT. 



207 



find, not only one projecting rosette in the narrow part 
of the foot, at the bottom of the instep, but, occasion- 
ally, a succession of projecting rosettes up to the ankles. 
If rosettes be worn at all — and there is no objection 
against them — they should sit flat, like a bow, and 
never project. The mistake commonly made is that 
such things are selected from a top view, and not after 
a side view. In the same manner combs are very often 



Fig. 91. 



m -q 


, 1 I 


SI 


■ ■ 


^ifl^ 


Juiljj 






ksi 








(-g^^jfiSgg 






nig 



THE ANKLET. 



selected, because, intrinsi- 
cally, they are becoming. 
The three represented in 
Fig. 92 by the letters a, 
b, c are all good in their 
way ; yet, none of tbem 
should be worn at all un- 
less in accordance with the 
shape of the head. If a or 
c are to be inserted near 
the top (e, g), and b below, as in F, they had better 
be dispensed with altogether. The proper way is indi- 
cated in the lower diagrams. Then again, collars 
must not project very much behind, as shown in p, 
Fig. 93; nor bands worn round the neck, as in R, 
but just where the shoulders begin (s). We ought 
not to treat such matters with indifference, because, 
as already insinuated, if a thing be worth doing at all, 
it is worth doing well ; and it is surely no moral 
transgression to set off to advantage the crowning 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



handiwork of Creation. In diagram b, Fig. 85, it will 
be observed that the waist-seam of the jacket is below 
the natural concavity, and that the buttons are brought 
down also. This is in accordance with the present 
"style"; although the buttons in the sketch are de- 
signedly not placed so low as they are required to be 
worn by the rigor of fashion. It would be too much to 
attribute this change to any desire for the permanent 

Fig. 92. 




THE DISPOSITION OF COMBS. 



improvement of jackets ; nevertheless, it happens to be 
an improvement, inasmuch as buttons were formerly 
placed at the bend of the waist, and may be instanced 
as a step in the right direction, which might be followed 
even in male attire. 

Nor should utility be left out of the question in the 
cut and arrangement of costume. It is usual to look 
upon Taste as one thing ; Common Sense as another. 
" Taste is not everything," Mrs. Oliphant writes ; " there 



PEESONAL ADOENMENT. 



209 



must be good sense, and there must be use." " Let 
the student bear in mind," says Barry, " that, in 
addition to good taste, he requires the exercise of sound 
judgment." It has already been shown that one is a 
component part of the other, and that, if any con- 
trivance be not adapted to the purpose for which it is 
primarily designed, it does not satisfy the demands of 
Taste. There are few matters in which the dictates of 
ordinary intelligence have been so utterly set at naught 
as the shape and size of head-gear. The crinoline had 

Fig. 93. 




f R 

COLLARS AND VELVETS. 



its use, — at least for those who started the fashion, — 
and even hoops are said to have lightened the drag of 
the skirt ; but monstrosities in head-gear have afforded 
no counterbalancing advantages. Mrs. Haweis, indeed, 
tells her readers that the Gainsborough hat " forms a 
distinct background" to the complexion, and recom- 
mends it accordingly; 1 but this is only another instance 
of the confusion arising from the misuse of that hack- 
neyed expression " Artistic." The said hat is all very 
well in Gainsborough's picture, because the Duchess of 

1 P. 123. 



210 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

Devonshire faces the spectator ; but what becomes of 
the background when the pretty living soul who sports 
a Gainsborough presents a side view, or when she turns 
round ? In the latter case, background and counte- 
nance both disappear together, and all that meets the 
wondering gaze is something resembling the contour of 
a mushroom. The purpose of a hat is primarily to 
afford protection to the head ; and it may be said of 
those at present worn that they fully answer this 
purpose, especially the exquisitely pretty Dame Trots 
and Langtries. But there is no telling by what 
absurdities they may not be supplanted. The fair 
reader's first exclamation upon beholding the head-dress 
upon page 211 will doubtless be, "What a vulgar 
thing!" (Fig. 94.) I would that girls of the humbler 
classes could be prevailed upon to abstain from flaunt- 
ing about in vulgar things ; yet we must recollect that 
the humbler classes have no fashion of their own, and 
that they imitate, as closely as they are able, those 
fashions set by the wealthy. There is nothing essen- 
tially objectionable in the hat itself, or in the feather. 
The vulgarity lies in the way they are put on; the 
feather lying too much off the hat, and the hat too 
much off the head. Have not the fashionables them- 
selves transgressed in both these respects? Are not 
they on the verge of doing so at the present moment ? 
We have accustomed ourselves to follow the style of 
the Parisians; and the Parisians now cover but half 



PERSONAL ADORNMENT. 



211 



the head ; the brims of their hats being turned up 
perpendicularly, so as to form, in the language of 
Mrs. Haweis, " a distinct background." 

Alas, alas ! when will the ladies of England un- 
shackle themselves from foreign domination, and rise 
superior to the dictates of Parisian modistes and cou- 
turieres! It would be too much to say that Taste in 

Fig. 94. 




THE "COMMON" HAT. 

France is somewhat on the wane, still there are not 
wanting evidences to show it is not what it was under 
the Empire. Nor is this surprising if such writers as 
M. Blanc exercise any control over popular predilec- 
tions. His judgement appears to be overpowered by 
the most inconceivable puerility. Fancy a Director of 
the Fine Arts commending the following abomination 
as imparting " an expression of independence and 



212 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



Fig. 95. 



originality ! " 1 (Fig. 95.) To his mind, a felt hat worn 
by a damsel in a masculine manner " recalls the 
Sedition of the Fronde " ; and imitation cherries in the 
bonnet " look as if they had fallen from a tree from 
which the naive Eousseau had thrown them." 2 No 
wonder, if rhodomontade of this description captivates 
the fancy of the lesser oracles, that such designs as 
those shewn in Fig. 96 make their appearance in the 

6 Journal des Demoiselles.' To the 
imagination of those who detect 
characteristics which have no 
existence, there is " piquancy " 
enough in the second drawing to 
satisfy the whole of M. Blanc's 
school. 

The woodcut on the left, besides 
illustrating the absurdity of strain- 
ing after effects, has been intro- 
duced for the purpose of exhibiting 
another objectionable feature. The 
feather in the hat will be noticed to curve upwards 
from the front. This is wrong ; for all ornaments of 
the kind should first rise, then curve, and gradually fall 
away towards the back ; because thus only can they har- 
monize with the shape of the head (see diagrams, Fig. 
99). Nor is it right to point even a goose-quill forward 
(Fig. 97). Fig. 98, copied from the 'Salon de Mode, 

1 P. 118. 2 Pp. 116, 225. 




M. BLANC S HAT. 



PEESONAL ADOENMENT. 



213 



presents a further disfigurement which we would do well 
to avoid. The hair should never be gathered up over 
the nape of the neck, for the natural outline sweeps 
inwards at that part. The rule I would lay down in 
regard to the position of hats and bonnets is, that 
they should never be worn beyond the line where 
the hair usually joins on to the forehead ; the brim 

Fig. 96. 





FRENCH HEAD-DBESSES. 



being turned downward or upward according to the age 
of the wearer (see Fig. 99). It is not " backgrounds'' 
which are necessary, or anything at all at the back, 
introduced with the view of throwing out the counte- 
nance, but some simple bordering which contrasts with 
the complexion, and thereby enhances its beauty with- 
out impairing the flow of natural outline. 

I have said "where ihe hair usually joins," because 



214 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

the position of the scalp varies. Not many years since 
it was considered a fine thing to display as much of 
the forehead as possible, a high one evidencing, it was 
thought, a superabundance of intellectual capacity. As 
a matter of fact, however, the size of a forehead depends 
rather upon the growth of the hair than upon cranio- 
logical development, and the discriminative faculties, 
the possession of which pre-eminently distinguishes 
mankind from its Darwinian pro- 

Fig. 97. L 

genitors — the faculties of form, 
color, rationalistic perception, 
and such like — lie more imme- 
diately over the eyes ; so that, if 
anything, a square, projecting fore- 
head is to be aimed at. The Greeks, 
comprehending this, brought the 
hair down over the forehead ; and 
this is done likewise by many of 

WRONG DIRECTION IN FEATHER. . „ 

the fair sex ot our /own time, 
although with the object only of making themselves 
look pretty. My own humble vote is for a continuance 
of this custom (see Figs. 99 and 104). 

One declamation against the modern boot, and my 
remarks upon Form are concluded. There would be no 
exaggeration in saying that nineteen women out of 
twenty have pinched their feet out of all proper shape by 
encasing them in tight boots. Nevertheless, not satisfied 
with this, the heel is now so raised that the toes are 




PEESONAL ADORNMENT. 



215 



Fig. 98. 



thrust into a wedge and made to do duty as supports 
to the body. All from the insane desire of making 
the feet appear "small." Would it not be well to 
remember that the length of the foot bears a certain 
proportion to the body, and that to apparently decrease 
that proportion is, not to aid Nature, but to attempt 
an alteration? Small feet, with arched insteps and 
ankles to match, unquestion- 
ably denote a high develop- 
ment of essentially human 
characteristics ; but they 
must not be dwarfed, or 
otherwise put out of shape. 
Our countrywomen, in gene- 
ral, do not pay sufficient at- 
tention to the quality of their 
boots, and that is the chief 
cause of their appearing to dis- 
advantage. The same thing 
happened before the introduc- 
tion of French corsets. They 
then seemed — erroneously, as it now turns out — to have 
inherited thick waists. Perhaps indeed the slush of 
London streets affords some excuse for the purchase 
of indifferently-made, hard-leathered, and inexpensive 
things. But then again, what necessity is there for 
slush ? Why should we not insist upon the cleansing 
of foot-pavements and the immediate laying down of 




A FRENCH BONNET. 



216 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



proper crossings? Mrs. Haweis recommends the use 
of clogs; I recommend that ratepayers compel the 
vestries to do their duty. 

In all questions of proportion it is impossible to lay 

Fig. 99. 




THE POSITION OF HATS. 



down positive rules. I would counsel the relinquish- 
ment of Louis Quinze absurdities (x, Fig. 100) ; a limit 



Fig. 100. 





DIFFERENCES IN BOOTS. 



upon height in the heel, not exceeding an inch and 
a half; a widening thereof at the bottom, in order to 
obviate twists and sprains to the ankle ; its advancement 
somewhat towards the tip of the foot, and an arching 



PEESONAL ADOENMENT. 217 

under the instep, to prevent one's weight pressing upon 
the toes (see y). The differences suggested may appear 
very trivial ; but this will be found to be the case 
with most of the modifications necessitated by aesthetic 
requirements. Were these palpably obvious, there 
would be little occasion for written treatises. 



218 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



COLOR. 

It would be well, before entering into detail upon the 
application of color, to set forth the distinctions between 
Primaries, Secondaries, Tertiaries, Neutrals, Comple- 
mentaries, Hues, Shades, and Tints ; for the non-appre- 
hension of these distinctions is the cause of a good many 
blunders in the selection of costume. 

There are only three Pkimaries ; viz. yellow, red, 
and blue. 

By the combination of these, in equal portions, are 
produced the Secondaries ; 

Yellow and red giving us orange, 
Yellow and blue „ „ green, 
Red and blue „ „ purple. 

By the intermixture of these are obtained Tertiaries ; 
Orange and green resulting in citrine, 
Orange and purple „ „ russet, 

Green and purple „ ,, olive. 

And thus we go on, by regular succession, to those 
various gradations commonly known as " Neutral," 
or " Mediaeval, tints." 

These latter, however, are not, strictly speaking, 
tints, but colors. A Tint is that which is produced 
by an admixture of white, or by dilution. 

A Complementary color is that which, in combi- 
nation with what adjoins it, presents to the eye the 
three primaries. For instance, red is the complement 



PERSONAL ADORNMENT. 219 

of green, because green itself combining two primaries, 
the red presents us with the remaining one. 

A Hue is that which is created by the addition, 
in more than an equal part, of any component color. 
Thus, blue-green is a hue of green, since it contains more 
blue than yellow ; and yellow-green is likewise a hue, 
because the yellow predominates over blue. 

Finally, a Shade is that variation which results from 
the introduction of black. 

We cannot pay a higher compliment to the dis- 
crimination of our forefathers than by designating such 
colors as are sombre and subdued by the appellation of 
Mediasval tints. A lady may dress in colors if she 
pleases, but if those colors start forward to meet the eye, 
and furthermore, kill the complexion, she does not attire 
herself with taste. It is no easy task to lay down one 
broad, invariable rule ; still, a pretty safe one to start 
with would be, the adoption of sober colors, hues, shades, 
or tints for the entire costume, and the restriction of 
such as are bright, or positive, to trimmings. 

Of course, it is perfectly allowable to dress in one 
uniform color, varying the trimmings to the extent 
onlv of a shade or hue. Nevertheless, it is not a little 
remarkable that Nature herself appears to insist upon 
the presence, in some form or another, of the three 
primaries, and this is, perhaps, a circumstance which 
should be taken into account, both in the decoration 
of a room, and in the completion of attire. If we look 



220 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

steadfastly upon vivid green, and then suddenly glance 
in another direction, a red spot, in size identical with 
the object we have been looking at, will, for several 
moments, follow the eye. Conversely, after regarding 
red window-blinds for some time, the surrounding wall, 
though it be really colorless, will assume a greenish 
tinge. In like manner, a golden sunset will cast 
upon distant intervening mountains a purple haze. 
Applying this suggestion, we would not have every- 
thing of one color, or even be satisfied with shades and 
hues thereof, but introduce occasional contrasts. A 
wall, for example, may be of olive-green, bordered with 
raised margins of yellow-green (set off with headings 
of gold) ; or these margins may be black. So far 
good ; yet this is not sufficient. There ought to be a 
picture or two, or some other article of furniture against 
the wall containing red ; or the ottoman, table-cover, 
and such like, must, in some manner, indicate the pre- 
sence of that color. I do not say that it is imperative 
upon one to introduce a complementary color into cos- 
tume, because two shades of green would amply suffice 
for an entire dress ; but, unless there be two shades or 
hues, the green might properly be relieved by a soupqon 
of red somewhere, either in the shape of a deep coral 
locket, a cherry tuft, a piping, or as interwoven with 
the stuff. 

Although, however, we may trim with bright and 
positive colors, we must still further restrict the 



PERSONAL ADORNMENT. 221 

application of such as are gaudy. It is very difficult 
to describe what a gaudy color is ; yet, since it is in- 
cumbent upon one to attempt some kind of definition, I 
would say that that is a gaudy color which kills the 
complexion. Eed is the brightest and most positive 
color we hare, even as white is the least so. " Though 
thy sins," exclaims the Psalmist, " be as scarlet, 
they shall be as white as snow ; though they be red 
like crimson, they shall be as wool." Still, red is 
not necessarily a gaudy color. If, however, it be 
mixed with yellow, it becomes gaudy — that is, trying 
to the complexion, and otherwise overpowering. And 
the greater the quantity of yellow the more gaudy it 
is, until we come from scarlet to yellow-orange. On 
the other hand, the more blue we add to pure red 
the more sombre the hue, until we arrive at violet, the 
very antithesis of yellow-orange. Now, before reaching 
violet we pass in gradation through purple. This is 
by no means a bright color ; nevertheless, it is gaudy, 
inasmuch as it kills ; whereas violet itself, or blue- 
purple — that is to say, true violet, produced from the 
best pigments — does not. 

A great many tints likewise kill, and should not be 
introduced except with the greatest discrimination ; 
pink, light blue, light green, and so forth being be- 
coming exclusively to very fair people ; and light yellow 
suiting only brunettes. Mediceval tints, however, may 
be worn with advantage by all ; although care should 



222 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

be taken to prevent any tint, of whatsoever description, 
from being juxtaposed in immediate proximity with 
the complexion. They ought invariably to be separated 
by bands or frillings of black, or white. 

It has become fashionable of late to wear black next 
the skin, and there can be no doubt that theoretically — 
according to the law of contrast — the practice is justifi- 
able. It is suitable, however, only to very fair com- 
plexions. Otherwise, so far from enhancing beauty, it 
creates an appearance of uncleanliness. As to the 
introduction of black patches upon the countenance, 
which the authoress of 'Art and Beauty' holds to be 
so " harmless and effective an aid," x no argument is 
needed against the folly of resorting to meretricious 
devices of all descriptions whatsoever. 

White itself I would not recommend, excepting in 
very partial combination with other colors. What has 
been said about its "irradiating all that comes within 
its range " is simple nonsense. Used in masses it takes 
the color out of everything ; as we may notice when the 
ground is covered with snow. The most delicate com- 
plexions then suffer by contrast. If very light, cool- 
looking dresses be desired — and such things are often 
desirable- — let them be of cream, or ecru. Ecru was once 
fashionable, but it fell into disfavor ; one does not know 
why, excepting either that it was injudiciously worn next 
the skin without an intervening rim of white, or that it 

1 P. 155. 



PERSONAL ADORNMENT. 223 

became "common." The reader will recollect what has 
before been said about creamy- white, the use of unobtru- 
sive colors in masses, and the restriction of those which 
are positive and decided in conformity with natural 
distribution. Not only may the latter be introduced 
with advantage into bands and trimmings — subject of 
course to exceptions already specified — but they may 
be introduced in two shades or hues. A creamy-white 
" fish- wife " costume, for example, furnished with broad 
bands of dark blue, may further have these set off with 
narrow ones of light blue. And in this manner, even 
such colors as, when used in quantities, kill, may suggest 
themselves with effect. A winter dress of navy blue, 
adorned with bands of crimson, may have these tricked 
out with borders or pipings of scarlet. Lilac may 
appear upon, or otherwise be used in juxtaposition with, 
violet; yellow upon citrine; salmon upon framboise, 
and so on ; for a mere soupqon of color cannot possibly 
have the same detrimental effect as its presence in 
masses. In this way gold also, which, as already stated, 
should be used but sparingly, may be applied to the 
embellishment of costume ; as, indeed, it has been in its 
day. Nor is orange itself amiss, or yellow unbecoming, 
especially in conjunction with black, and used for the 
adornment of brunettes ; although both these colors, 
in common with others which fall within the category 
of "gaudy" ones, notwithstanding the favor accorded 
to them by the authoresses of ' House Decoration,' 



224 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

should be excluded from mural embellishment. Com- 
binations of this kind are suggested by Nature herself; 
for a ruby will glitter with vermilion in the lights, an 
emerald with light green, an amethyst with lilac, and 
so on. That is to say, although the lighter parts 
would partake of the character of shades rather than 
of hues, yet, were an artist representing them upon 
canvas, he would render the effect better by laying on 
vermilion and then dragging it with a transparent 
glaze of crimson, and, similarly, by laying on yellow or 
lilac and toning these with a film of Prussian blue, 
than by mixing crimson, pure green, and violet, re- 
spectively, with white. 

Gold harmonizes with any color, and next to it in 
the scale comes red. There are very few colors which 
will not bear the application of red ; and, being warm 
and enlivening, none other is so well adapted to cold 
seasons of the year. Nor, indeed, is it amiss in 
summer ; for cream and Cardinal are an excellent com- 
bination. A generation ago no one would have dreamt 
of juxtaposing cream, with Cardinal, since harmony by 
contrast was all that was aimed at. We have now, 
happily, harmony by assimilation ; and I hope we shall 
keep to it. Eed, of course, harmonizes with olive ; 
nevertheless, if used in quantities, the contrast is too 
violent. Yellow-green harmonizes equally; but then, 
the harmony being by similarity, larger proportions 
of this color may be used. 



PERSONAL ADORNMENT. 225 

Alas, however, for the fickleness of Fashion ! We 
no sooner arrive at one kind of harmony than an 
attempt is made to supplant it by another. For a few 
successive years ladies have worn all to match, from 
head-dress to shoes. We are now threatened with a 
revival of dissimilarities. The dress must be of one 
kind, the bonnet of another. Perhaps when it is 
recognized that the effect of this is apparently to 
diminish stature, the efforts in this direction of those 
u veiled prophets " of the Gay City, u who invent and 
modify at pleasure," will prove unavailing. I would 
call upon the fair ones to maintain uniformity, because 
uniformity imparts " breadth," and breadth conduces to 
height. If the dress be of olive-green, let the hat, or 
the greater portion thereof — the feather, for instance — 
be of olive-green also ; and if the trimming be of 
yellow-green, let there be a tuft of this color in the 
hat too, or have the feather tipped with yellow-green. 
Even stockings should, as far as practicable, corre- 
spond ; black or deep red being the best general color. 

It would be useless to enter into further particulars, 
because the principles above enunciated apply to every 
variety of costume. If only some of those which are 
generally becoming be indicated, we can then pass on 
to other matters. For winter wear there is nothing 
better than navy-blue, blue-green, olive, slate, bronze, 
chocolate, puce, deep grey, brown, or black, trimmed 
with brighter colors; and for summer wear, tints of 

Q 



226 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

the same, sage-green, ecru, or cream, set off with bands, 
bows, and sashes of darker hue, or positive color. Such 
combinations as that approved by M. Blanc, namely, 
"blue and green," 1 or that in vogue during the past 
season, i. e. cerulean and Cardinal, should be studiously 
avoided as manifesting neither harmony by contrast 
nor harmony by similarity ; and, furthermore, we must 
subordinate every question of sentiment, whether 
spurious or real, to the canons of chromatic disposition. 
Notwithstanding the dicta of impressionable French 
writers, a ladv will " dream " as well in neutral tint as 
in the hue of the empyrean, and " weep " as effectually 
in "pink" as in black; 2 we may take it for granted 
that white will not adapt itself to brunettes " by 
throwing out a light which irradiates all that comes 
within its reach," 3 and rest assured that all attempts to 
force upon the mind the potentiality of impalpable 
virtues, to impress the imagination with the fictitious 
presence of " piquancy, queen-like dignity, originality," 
or " independence" (vide M. Blanc), and generally 
to parade the romance of affectation, will invariably 
be made at the sacrifice of visual gratification. If I 
may be permitted to intimate my own predilections, 
they are in favor of deep crimson for autumn and 
winter wear, for ecru and Cardinal in brighter 
weather, for silver ornaments upon black dresses, for 
gold trimmings, for the retention of flowing skirts, and 

1 P. 186. 2 P. 187. 3 P. 69. 



PERSONAL ADORNMENT. 



227 



for the perpetuation of capes — not capes coming right 
down the back, concealing the waist and pinning the 
arms to the sides (a, Fig. 101) or standing out like 
the skirt of a dancing dervaish (b), but capes properly 
cut, and falling to the figure, as in c. Red is our 
national color ; and besides being admirably suited to 

Fig. 101. 




[A 

DIFFERENCES IN CAPE8. 

a sunless climate, its general adoption would denote 
the prevalence of a patriotic spirit. There unfortu- 
nately exists among ladies a deep-rooted aversion 
against being " copied " by the humbler classes ; an 
aversion to which the sterner sex is a stranger. Let 
me put it to them whether they would not prefer, in 

Q 2 



228 



THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 



lien of Continental derision, that a tribute of applause 
should be paid to the taste of their countrywomen? 
Social distinctions are not so inappreciable as to be 
bridged over by mere similarity in attire. Consti- 
tuted as we are, physically affected by the character 
of companionship and influenced by the culture of 
patrician endowments, there must always be perceptible 

Fig. 102. 





DIFFERENCES IN ASTRICTION. 



differences among various grades ; and if aesthetic appre- 
ciation be manifested by those of a lower sphere of life, 
are ladies in more fortunate positions any the worse 
for this ? Compare figures a and b in the accompany- 
ing drawing (Fig. 102). The vast superiority in the 
sit of the skirt b is obvious when pointed out; for 
herein prominence is given to natural beauty, while in 



PERSONAL ADORNMENT. 229 

the other diagram it is destroyed. A nice discrimina- 
tion alone will enable one to perceive such things 
without their being pointed out ; and surely this is not a 
quality the possession of which we ought to begrudge ! 

Eed — that is, deep red — is perhaps the only positive 
and decided color which may be introduced in masses, 
even to the extent of an entire confection, toned down 
with a combination of black. 

But then there are those who cannot afford to have 
many dresses, and to vary their costume with the tem- 
perature of the seasons. To such I would say, that a 
higher aesthetic feeling is manifested in a good-fitting 
attire of unpretensious material, than in the richest 
stuffs cut and put on without regard to the dictates of 
Taste. Wealth does not eradicate intuitive vulgarity, 
nor poverty subvert the instincts of refinement. Many 
a humble damsel, attired in simple blue serge, stitched 
together, probably, with her own hands, is better dressed 
than women of fortune in silk and satins. Indeed, 
serge itself is not a material to be despised. In 
speaking of the character of British decoration it was 
pointed out that we frequently failed in truly artistic 
effects from the practice of imparting too much smooth- 
ness and sheen to surfaces. 1 The same reasoning ap- 
plies to attire. For ordinary wear, rough, " undressed" 
material — even workhouse sheeting — is far preferable 
to glossy matt-rial ; and, in this view, a costume entirely 

1 Ch. iv. 



230 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

of satin, so far from being a thing to be proud of, is a 
thing to be avoided. Smooth material should be used 
for trimmings only. And this rule holds good with 
reference to articles of furniture, and also to male attire. 
Everyone knows the disagreeable effect of a coat or 
pair of trousers of shiny black ; and we shall likewise 
find hangings of rep, artistically considered, superior to 
the most elaborately wrought damask. Moreover, when 
smooth or glossy material is used conjointly with rough 
material, the former should be laid upon the latter, and 
not viceversd; bands of satin, for example, being applied 
over Cashmere, never Cashmere over satin. 

But whatever be worn, care must be taken to keep 
something dark immediately around the countenance ; 
because, howsoever otherwise becoming tints of certain 
descriptions may be, they will detract from the com- 
plexion unless separated by intervening white, as 
already stated, or dark color. And whereas white by 
itself affords no contrast if the whole dress be light ; 
therefore, in that case it ought properly to be coupled 
with, or superseded by, a rim of dark material (Fig. 
103). The same argument holds good with regard to 
the hat or bonnet. It is in etiquette to wear, for fetes 
and matinees, bonnets entirely of white. The sooner 
this custom is abandoned the better; since no com- 
plexion can stand a mass of unrelieved white. Even 
a white camellia is not always becoming. 

White possesses also another property which must 



PEESONAL ADORNMENT. 



231 



not be lost sight of. It expands by filling the eye ; 
wherefore, neither this nor anything approaching to it is 
suitable to persons of portly proportions. Black, on the 
contrary, receding from the eye, apparently contracts. 
It is no easy matter to clothe those who are inordi- 
nately stout ; but this much may well be borne in mind, 
that very few need become stout if they eschew habits 
of indolence. We see fishwomen and applewomen, who 

Fig. 103. 




THE CONTIGUITY OF DARK COLOR. 



sit quiescently at their stalls the greater part of the 
twenty -four hours, of " homely " dimensions ; but seldom 
find laborers, and others taking regular exercise, stout ; 
so that if a lady becomes so — except in especial cases 
— she deserves very little consideration from those 
whose avocation it is " to make people look their best." 
In fact, white must be introduced with as much judg- 
ment as any of the recognized colors. Some years ago, 
portly gentlemen took to exhibiting a portion of their 



232 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

well-blanched waistcoats over that part of the person to 
which Sancho Panza devoted such tender and unremit- 
ting solicitude. They were found to amplify the figure 
and were dropped. Singularly enough, the ladies have 
now taken them up ; and with what effect but to make 
them appear large where there is no necessity to be 
large ? Perhaps the white will gradually work round 
upon the waist itself; and then we shall witness the 
same result as that produced upon our unfortunate 
soldiers of the line, whose pipe-clayed belts render their 
by no means naturally slender forms thicker and 
clumsier than ever. White stockings enlarge the feet 
and ankles, and when the gaiters which gentlemen 
occasionally wear under dark trousers be of the same 
color, these likewise impart a heavy, hypertrophied 
appearance, by no means creditable to the perception 
of the wearers. 

The illustrations in Fig. 104 will sufficiently ex- 
emplify what has been said about the relative effects 
of tints and colors in proximity with the complexion. 
As in other matters hereinbefore treated of, the par- 
tiality shown for delicate hues takes its origin in false 
reasoning. A fair damsel appears with a light blue 
tuft, a lilac bow, or a pink rose, because these are 
u beautiful colors," not considering whether or not they 
injure her complexion ; and a damsel who is not fair 
will do the same thing because she finds that many 
people have expressed an admiration for the fair one, 



PEESONAL ADOENMENT. 233 

notwithstanding that she has worn what did not become 
her. The like ratiocination leads to the introduction of 
all kinds of imitation flowers, coral ornaments, and 
such like. Nor is sophistry of this sort confined to the 
gentler sex, for although materfamilias will go through 
the world with a picture in mosaic of the Tomb of 
Noor Mahomed, because the Tomb of Noor Mahomed 
is an exquisite specimen of architecture, or will, to ex- 
hibit the constancy of her affection, adorn her brooch 
with a photograph of her husband, yet Nimrod himself 
— a paragon of all the manly virtues — will not scruple 
to carry about a representation of his favorite terrier 
as a scarf-pin, although he wears it where he cannot 
possibly see it. Perhaps our vivacious neighbors are 
constituted differently from ourselves; nevertheless, 
since we are very much influenced by their opinions, it 
would be well to caution the reader against the admoni- 
tions suggested in the following rhapsody. " What 
fertility of invention ! " exclaims the author of * Art in 
Ornament and Dress.' * " A pair of ear-rings made of 
enamelled violets; enhancing wonderfully the beauty 
of golden hair! Another pair will represent cherries. 
Here a peacock spreads its emerald tail. There 
brilliants and sapphires unite in the wings of a dragon- 
fly about to settle on a lovely head ! " Let us hope that 
fertility of invention may be displayed among our own 
country people in other directions than that indicated 

1 P. 254. 



234 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

in this exhortation. There may be "ingeiraity " raani- 
fested in handiwork of this character ; but about as 
much Taste as that evinced by the ancients who set up 
the Colossus of Rhodes and the Wooden Horse at Troy. 
Are we to denude our walls of bouquets; our 
friezes of peacocks ; our tables of dogs' heads ; our 
vases of butterflies ; and yet retain them upon the 
person ? What is the meaning of a parrot upon a cage 
suspended from the ear. a mouse upon a finger-ring, or 
a diamond lizard upon the breast ? One sees now. even 
flies disposed for sale in Paris, and perhaps ere long 
we may be treated with spiders. Let us hope, though, 
that, among English ladies, the introduction of such 
things will be postponed to that blissful period when it 
will be an ordinary and natural incident for a dragon- 
fly to settle upon a lovely head. We have had enough 
of vulgar imitation, and would do well to eschew 
representation of every description upon the person ; 
wearing only such patterns as are either geometric or 
quasi-geometric ; that is to say not " suggestive " of 
anything we find around us, but simply ornamental. 
This advice is the more necessary since on the other 
side of the Channel an inundation of floral design has 
already set in ; threatening to supplant, with sprigs, 
leaves and flowers, the beautiful broches and chenilles 
which but two years ago gave such promise of artistic 
supremacy. The forms and hues of Nature have 
reappeared upon fabrics, and the display upon spring 



PERSONAL ADORNMENT. 235 

bonnets of horticultural products is gaudy to a degree. 
I here repeat what has already been said when speaking 
of decoration, that we may suggest the outline of natural 
forms — even retaining the " wreathes of primroses and 
daffodils " to which one writer objects — but are bound, 
by every principle of Taste, to abstain from indicating 
natural hues. 

Let us, furthermore, eschew all attempts at the 
" Picturesque." The day has happily gone by when 
artists and authors, with supercilious disregard for 
social conventionalities, arrayed themselves in the garb 
of disorder by disheveling their hair, slouching their 
hats, and rumpling their shirt-fronts. Nevertheless, 
there are not wanting indications, even at the present 
moment, of a lingering association between " genius " 
and eccentricity. The revival of Mediaeval colors 
has been accompanied by a partial resuscitation of 
Mediaeval forms, and we have been threatened suc- 
cessively with the Grecian chyton, the Indian sari, 
and " the quaintly-beautiful dress of Japan." Depend 
upon it we shall cease to dress with Taste the moment 
we abandon individuality and ignore the requirements 
of climate ; and we cease to dress with Taste when we 
import into attire details which do not conform with 
the characteristic of our own race. The illusory allure- 
ments of cosmopolitanism have already insinuated 
themselves into sciences affecting our relations with 
foreign countries. Let us at least exhibit a modicum of 



236 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

the amor patrice in personal adornment. And since 
intuitive intelligence, and the dictates of " sound judg- 
ment," both demand the maintenance of harmony and 
congruity in every detail, we would do well to abstain 
from the adoption of neglige folds, open collars, project- 
ing fichus, and everything else that interferes with the 
flow of natural contour ; we would do well to set our 
faces against clumsy " Eucalyptus-handled " parasols, 
and the revival of flanging sleeves, which are un- 
becoming and highly in- 
convenient, especially at the 
dinner-table (Fig. 105) ; and 
we would do well to decline 
the introduction of animals 
upon the person. If a Pari- 
sian chooses to wear a fly 
in her ear, or to wipe her 
pen upon the petticoat of a 
Sister of Charity, that is no 
reason whatever why Englishwomen should do the 
same. There are materials around us for the con- 
trivance of every legitimate adornment, and patterns 
are designable by the ingenuity of man far more 
effective than imitative " suggestions." One has only 
to twirl a kaleidoscope, or close one's eyes and con- 
centrate attention, in order to discover an inexhaus- 
tible mine of rich suggestions. And if the reader be 
desirous of ascertaining the effect of what has here- 




PERSONAL ADORNMENT. 237 

inbefore been described as quasi-geometric ornation, she 
has but to procure a few pieces of glass, shaped to the 
similitude of sprigs, leaves and flowers, and furnish a 
kaleidoscope with these. If occupation be desired for 
the young ladies of a family, they cannot do better than 
embroider designs of this description, instead of vainly 
attempting to " suggest " in crewel-work " the entire 
growth and sweetness of the rose-plant," or the delicious 
perfumes of Nature. The only exception at all allow- 
able is in the case of imitation flowers ; for since real 
ones fade, which from time immemorial have been 
associated with youth, innocence, and beauty ; since 
real ones themselves are highly ornamental when worn 
with discrimination, their representation in personal 
adornment is a most reasonable indulgence. To such 
perfection has the art of imitating them been brought, 
that one can scarcely discern any difference from their 
originals ; whereas no embroidery, howsoever exquisitely 
executed., can delude the mind into the belief that it 
is anything but a pretensious attempt to portray, in 
unsuitable material, what cannot possibly be rendered, 
excepting by the richest pigments manipulated with the 
brush. 

By wearing artificial flowers " with discrimination " 
is meant, that they must be selected with regard to the 
season of the year, suit the complexion, not to be too 
large, and kept well away from the face. There should 
be no violets in autumn, or snow-drops in winter ; 



238 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

very delicate tints, if introduced at all, should be 
introduced in combination with positive and decided 
color; affected appropriateness should be discarded 
altogether, and only those chosen which are artistically 
beautiful. That is to say, the coarser kinds, such as 
poppies and sun-flowers, ought to be entirely dispensed 
with. It is commonly considered a becoming thing to 
send young ladies into the fields and country lanes 
with their hats covered with poppies and corn-flowers. 
There is a simulated appropriateness in this as objec- 
tionable as that displayed by the designer of the serpent 
seat sketched upon page 90. As to the introduction of 
fruit ; that is simply abominable. No strictly globular 
form is ornamental ; there is no " broken pattern " in 
fruit (see page 114) ; there is no sentiment connected 
therewith ; nor is there any reason why, if one bonnet 
be adorned with cherries or lemons, another should not 
be trimmed with asparagus. 

There is no extravagance too preposterous for the 
votaries of Fashion. Last year we had apricots upon 
the top of parasols ; this year squirrels and mice appear 
upon the head-gear. Now, there is no harm in pressing 
into the service of apparel such ornamental parts of an 
animal as are not suggestive of slaughter and mortality; 
in wearing, for example, the brush of a fox, or the 
wing of a kingfisher. When a humming-bird is 
introduced that is quite a different matter ; for, as one 
mere diminutive mass of resplendent coloring, it may 



PERSONAL ADORNMENT. 239 

reasonably be treated as an exception. And, of course, 
none of these remarks are directed against feathers ; for 
these suggest nothing disagreeable, and are highly 
ornamental. But to introduce entire animals, which are 
not in themselves purely decorative, is to manifest 
at least an absence of delicate feeling. Many of the 
fair ones embellish their ears with tiger-claw pendants. 
There is no perceptible difference between this practice 
and that of the African who bedecks his person with 
the teeth and tusks of a wild boar. Indeed, it is difficult 
to understand why ladies wear ear-rings at all; for 
they add no lustre to pulchritude, drag down the lobe 
of the ear, and are no more becoming than the nose- 
ring of an Eastern nautch-girl. So lovely are the best 
specimens of the human countenance, that they require 
no addition from the hand of man ; and those who are 
not blessed with lovely countenances in no way enhance 
their charms by wearing such barbarous appendages. 

I hope it will not be inferred, from the commendation 
bestowed upon the Princesse costume, that there is any 
intention to limit the range of selection, for it was 
merely instanced at the beginning of this article as an 
example fulfilling the requirements of Taste. Can we 
look around upon the works of Creation and say that 
there is not sufficient variety to satisfy the most ardent 
votary at the shrine of Novelty ? There is individual 
diversity in every department ; yet general uniformity. 
There are about thirty-eight million inhabitants in 



240 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

these islands, having eyes, nose, mouth, and chin, 
relatively in the same position ; yet no two coun- 
tenances are alike. One voice is seldom mistaken for 
another ; every tree or shrub possesses some distinctive 
feature ; and no monstrosity is created for the purpose 
of exhibiting a pleasing innovation. Has human 
ingenuity descended to so low an ebb that successive 
alterations cannot be made upon one substantial basis ? 
Must the laws of harmony, and conformity with contour, 
be overturned in order to gratify a craving for mere 
change ? There is something supremely ridiculous in 
such an announcement as that " this year waists will 
be worn high," or that next season they will be " worn 
low." If any individual waist be naturally high, an 
endeavor should be made to aid the figure by so 
arranging attire as to make it appear lower. But to 
attempt a generic alteration is not only preposterous, 
but little short of profanity; for if mortal man were to 
devote his whole energy to the task, he could conceive 
nothing which in every single detail is so fascinating as 
the form the Almighty has created. It has pleased Him 
to confer upon the Anglo-Saxon race fair complexions 
and golden hair. Are the ladies of England to mani- 
fest their gratitude by raising up in their imagination 
an ideal standard of Beauty in the " dark-eyed maiden 
of the East " ? Is naturally-light color to be darkened 
because it distinguishes also what we are pleased to 
designate the " common people " ? We know that 



PERSONAL ADORNMENT. 241 

white, red, and gold are associated with all that is 
pure, rich, and enticing ; and we have but to take 
cognizance in order to ascertain that, despite the 
supposed predilection of an Ethiopian for black, both 
he and the members of every swarthy tribe look upon 
delicate and bright colors as indispensable to beauty. 
While the African bedecks his person in tbe gaudiest 
of hues, the Hindu besmears his favorite deities with 
pale yellow and vermilion, and the Mussulman por- 
trays his ideal quintessence in unmistakeable " lilies 
and roses." Indeed, the pink rose is regarded through- 
out Southern Asia, just as it is among Europeans, as 
the loveliest of floral productions. There is no beauty 
more bewitching than that within the British Isles. 
Our countrywomen lack only the art of making the 
most of themselves. Young ladies are brought up 
with the notion that there is something " frivolous " 
in Dress, so they devote no energy to its real study ; 
social isolation renders them shy ; and a national 
habit of residing in a series of petty, detached resi- 
dences, deprives them of all opportunity for acquiring 
grace and flexibility. It is no easy matter in dealing 
with the subject before us to avoid the wounding of 
susceptibilities, or to draw distinctions exactly where 
they ought to be drawn. The above animadversions 
do not, of course, apply to all young ladies, or to all 
who reside in petty, detached residences. But I put it 
to the reader herself, whether we are not, as a people, 

R 



242 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

uncouth and ill-dressed, compared with corresponding 
classes in France, or even in America ; whether we 
would not be all the better for a little more social 
intercourse, a little more indulgence in dancing and 
other enlightened recreations; whether we would not 
benefit by generally dwelling in flats, and opening our 
eyes to the advantages of combination under favorable 
restrictions. 



CONCLUSION. 243 



CONCLUSION. 

Will it be maintained that no material benefit will 
accrue from the cultivation and diffusion of Taste ? 
What is it which for generations has caused the coin of 
other realms to flow into the coffers of France, but the 
solicitude manifested by the State for the encourage- 
ment of discrimination in the people? There is an 
especial Department for the Fine Arts, there are 
gratuitous lectures, there are judicious subventions ; 
and the result is, they not only furnish the design of 
every new pattern, but manufacture the material. And 
no sooner do the looms of Manchester enter into com- 
petition with those of France, than the people of 
France change the character of material, and start 
afresh. Mechanical ingenuity and solid workmanship 
are not everything. What is it that constitutes the 
difference between the French capital and the English 
capital, but attention to these apparently unessential 
matters which both spring from, and create, a spirit of 
refinement? Perhaps one is as well drained as the 
other ; perhaps the average duration of life is greater 
in London than it is in Paris; no doubt the miles of 
warehouses in our own city indicate the substantial 

R L> 



244 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

resources of an " Empire upon which the sun never 
sets" ; and beyond question, this metropolis is more 
"vast" than the other. But where do the wealthy 
spend their money? Naturally, in a place wherein 
regard is had to all that is calculated to fascinate the 
eye and render life pleasant. Naturally, in a place 
wherein everything is presented with an air of order, 
regularity, and system ; where the streets are not 
puddled and the flags are kept clean ; where the rumble 
of carriage-wheels over pavement laid down in the 
days of the Hackney-coach do not distract by day and 
disturb one's slumber by night ; where there is no 
pushing and shoving at public entertainments, but one 
place for ingress and another for egress ; where one 
can sit down if he is tired, and refresh himself without 
going to his Club, or partaking of strong drink at a 
Bodega ; where there are no gin-palaces for the sale 
of intoxicating liquors, although there is no stint in 
beverages which never inebriate ; where one can reside 
in a flat and dine at a restaurant ; where the strains 
of martial music are not restricted to the fashionable 
resorts of the beau monde ; where the thoroughfares are 
properly lighted, and all wears an aspect of gaiety, and 
animation ; and finally, in a city which is not perpe- 
tually enveloped in smoke. That is where the affluent 
from all parts of the world flock ; that is where 
thousands of British, who are well able to live with 
comfort at home, reside ; that is where thousands more 



CONCLUSION. 215 



who cannot live with comfort at home, squander their 
surplus cash ; that is the spot from which the whole of 
Christendom procures, at least, its fashionable apparel. 
It is all very well to say that London is spread over 
so vast an area that it cannot be properly paved, or 
that some vestries are more neglectful than others. 
The magnitude of London is owing, not so much to 
the density of population, as to the circumstance that 
at least one-fifth of its area is taken up by staircases — 
which would not be if the majority of people resided 
in flats, — and also to the circumstance that, since resi- 
dence in flats is not customary, each acre of ground 
embraces about one-fourth the number it might other- 
wise embrace. And as to the negligence and short- 
comings of vestries, it is not to be expected of such 
antiquated institutions that they should fulfil with 
satisfaction the duties assigned to them. The people 
of this country need to be awakened from the lethargy 
incidental to our isolated situation ; to perceive the 
impossibility of maintaining a commercial supremacy 
unless we advance with the progress of international 
emulation ; unless we devote more attention to the 
necessities of the multitude within these shores ; unless 
we recognize the utility of assthetic appreciation, and 
relinquish that bastard magnanimity which impels 
us to interfere without cessation in the concerns of 
others while neglecting our own, to actively contend 
against the principle of unification among kindred 



246 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

races, to throw open the doors of our colonies to 
foreign competition without deriving fiscal advantages 
therefrom, and to impose an import duty upon our own 
manufactures, in order to increase the revenues of a 
dependency overflowing with riches. 

That a general compliance with the requirements 
of Taste would exercise a salutary effect in elevating 
the character and improving physique, cannot be 
denied; for in domestic attendants alone we have an 
example of its influence upon mental and physiological 
developement ; and few, I think, will question the 
potency of refinement, both in ameliorating the dis- 
position and in eventually impressing itself upon the 
very lineaments of the countenance. 

Let us, then, trust that the day is not distant when, 
by reducing the straggling elements of Taste to a 
scientific system, its principles will assert themselves in 
the active sphere of existence ; when we shall know 

HOW TO USE THE THINGS WHICH NATURE HAS PLACED 

within our reach, and set off to advantage the forms 
the Almighty has given us ; when 'Arry will no longer 
violate the simplest rules of syntax ; when Sarah will 
attire herself in apparel which is "neat, not gaudy," 
and the offspring of William, emerging from the 
miseries of the back-slum, will develope into beings 
at least as remarkable for manly proportion as the 
barbarous Zulu. For, say what we will about "the 
justice of our rule" kindling, in the breasts of alien 



CONCLUSION. 247 



races under British protection, sentiments of gratitude, 
loyalty, and devotion, we shall be compelled, sooner or 
later, to rely upon the hardihood of honest William and 
his compatriots for the preservation of that Empire 
upon which the sun never sets ; because the tendency 
of enlightenment is not, as commonly supposed, to unite 
humanity in the bond of " universal brotherhood," but 
to bring into action those innate yearnings for national 
cohesion which render intolerable the thraldom of 
foreign domination. One object in writing these pages 
has been to exhibit the consequences of not following 
the paths indicated by Nature. If we do so in the 
matter of dress alone, we shall revert to none of those 
follies which have distinguished the attire of bygone 
generations ; we shall retain what is becoming, not- 
withstanding that it may become common among less 
wealthy classes, and refuse to be guided by those whose 
interest it is to bring about a ceaseless succession of 
mere innovations. 

Nor are we able to console ourselves with the 
reflection that our neighbors excel us in gew-gaws 
and finery alone ; for it is a matter of notoriety that 
we are gradually being eclipsed in the manufacture of 
more durable and substantial productions also. The 
causes of this check — be it temporary or permanent — 
there is no difficulty in ascertaining ; the remedy is 
entirely in our own hands. If we abandon the practice 
of regarding ourselves as entrusted with " Missions,'" 



248 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

and adopt the more straightforward policy of retaining 
or extending our possessions primarily for our own 
benefit, and secondarily for the advantage of others; 1 
if we aid the efforts of capitalists by modifying the 
restrictions imposed upon the hours of labor, and 
legalize vigorous measures for suppressing sudden 
strikes ; if, when we discover that Free Trade does 
not pay, we discuss the advisability of substituting Reci- 
procity, without being influenced by the " nobleness " 
of disinterested motives ; if we protect honest traders 
and foreign purchasers by a determined stand against 
fraud and adulteration ; we shall then be in a position 
to consider whether it would not be desirable to crown 
these achievements by the establishment of a special 
Department for advocating and maintaining the neces- 
sities of Taste. Of what avail is a solitary institution 
like the South Kensington, or the promise of the City 
Guilds to devote, out of the enormous funds entrusted 
to their keeping, a paltry 20,000Z. a year towards the 
promotion of technical education? The requirements 
of the country demand something far more ample and 



1 Let me not be misunderstood. Our intercourse with less energetic people 
necessarily results in material advantage to them, and that alone is a sufficient 
justification for looking more immediately to our own interests. From 1865 to 
1875, for example, the exports from India exceeded her imports by 116,000,0002. 
Does not this mean that although we received raw material or produce to that 
value, she received the Cash f We conquered part of this dependency, portions 
were ceded to us by treaty, and for the right of governing the rest we paid. 
Do we chiefly gain, or those who, having contributed nothing, are nevertheless 
entitled by the rules of free trade to the use of her ports ? 



COXCLUSION. 249 



systematic than this. If the peculiarities of our land 
tenure really militate against the display of artistic 
construction, it ought to he some person's duty to 
propose favourable modifications; if resources intended 
for the encouragement of technical proficiency be 
squandered in civic entertainments, it ought to be the 
business of somebody uninfluenced by the fear of future 
non-election to invoke the interference of Parliament ; 
if uniformity in metropolitan architecture be decidedly 
preferable to heterogeneous diversification, some one 
ought to initiate a scheme for its enforcement. In fact 
it would be impossible to anticipate the useful measures 
which might be inaugurated through the intervention 
of such a Department. Nor would its creation involve 
the recognition of any novel principle, since the license 
to do as one pleases, even in the erection of a private 
dwelling, is already curtailed by material restrictions. 

If in the above observations I be thought to be 
wanting in " patriotism," let me explain that I do not 
understand patriotism to consist in the indulgence of 
oratorical acclamation, but in doing all in one's power 
to push his countrymen to the front. If we can truth- 
fully say that we are not, by one nation or another, 
excelled in most of the higher branches of enlightened 
culture ; in diplomacy ; in the science of strategical 
warfare ; in the administration of systematic law ; in 
organization and methodical arrangement; in artistic 
construction ; in figure painting ; in the composition of 

s 



250 THE SCIENCE OF TASTE. 

music ; in the execution of music, both vocal and instru- 
mental ; in the art of making life pleasant ; in polite- 
ness ; in the preparation of palatable food ; in elegance 
and expressiveness of language, and even in the dis- 
tinct articulation of our own vernacular ; if, in relying 
upon the power of private enterprise alone, disre- 
garding the efficaciousness of State coadjuvancy, and 
reposing entirely upon the virtues of substantial work- 
manship, we have been the victims of circumstances 
over which we had no control, then let us indulge in 
self-adulation, and declare the fruitlessness of inciting 
emulation. But if we are excelled, let us gird our loins 
and buckle to the task of associating the British name 
with all that is honorable and truly great ; remembering 
that he who " provides not for his own, and especially 
for those of his own house," has been pronounced by 
the most authoritative of Apostles to be " worse than 
an infidel"; and bearing in mind, at the same time, 
that it is our interest to do this. It cost the country 
many millions to recognize the value of scientific 
Jurisprudence ; let us hope that the losses experienced 
during the past few years will rouse us to the necessity 
of systematizing and cultivating the principles of 
Taste. 



LONDON : PRINTED BY EDWARD STANFORD, 55, CHARTNG CROSS, B."W. 



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